In the midst of ministry, I often have both church members and pastors ask me what the silver bullet for a growing, healthy small group or Sunday School organization. Although there are a number of things that are helpful to a healthy small group, there is no “silver bullet.”
However, there are a number of things that are beneficial to having healthy small groups such as starting new groups; an outreach/evangelism strategy that connects unchurched people to a specific small group; transformational Bible teaching; and soulcare extended to group members by their small group. But if I were to start with one specific area, I would focus on the small group leaders themselves.
The movie Remember the Titans is one of my favorites. A particular scene in that movie has always stood out. The captain of the football team calls out one of the players for having a poor attitude.
The player’s response that “Attitude reflects leadership, captain” reflects the importance of leadership. People model their leader. This characteristic is especially true in a small group dynamic.
The members of the group will ultimately reflect their group leader.
Let me speak to pastors for a moment (everyone else needs to skip these two paragraphs). Pastors, the greater investment you make of your time, leadership and training into your small group leaders, the more effective they will be at leading their group to carry out the Great Commission. Your Sunday School leaders are an extension of your ministry, and as an extension, they need training and they need to hear from you.
Pastors, I want to encourage you to work with whoever the leader is of the church’s small group organization to develop opportunities to train your leaders. Share what you expect and need from them. People will not generally do something they have not been trained and motivated to accomplish. Pastors, be sure to show up for the training! The amount of time the pastor invests with his small group leaders has a profound influence on his ability to lead them forward.
A word for small group leaders (Pastors, it is your turn to check out for a few): help your pastor. The Lord has made him the under shepherd of the church. Show up for training opportunities. Be upbeat about what the pastor is asking you to do. Do not grumble to your group. The church and your pastor have entrusted the Great Commission to you and the group you lead—so lead it!
Show up when your pastor or Sunday School director schedules equipping opportunities. An attitude that leadership training is beneath you or a waste of your time is not Christ-like. All of us could use help in leading our small group, and if you are already an expert on a specific topic, then you can be a witness and an encourager to other leaders who have not yet mastered that particular skill.
I believe that every Sunday School or small group leader should ask themselves this question: “Am I the kind of small group leader I would want to have if I was the pastor of this church?” Group leaders, God did not call you to be the spiritual counter-balance to your pastor. In all honesty, I believe that the overwhelming majority of small group leaders want their pastor to lead and communicate with them on a regular basis.
This coming August, the BGCO is partnering with several associations around our state to offer small group leadership trainings. Let me encourage you to participate in one of these training clinics. These clinics can be found at www.reconnectss.com/clinics-2.