Church Small Groups are notoriously difficult to do well. Small groups have various names – growth groups, city groups, d-groups, missional communities, gospel communities, etc. As church leaders, we continuously work to get people connected to small groups, train leaders well, and create successful small group environments. But church small groups are often mediocre at best. One of the primary reasons that church small groups do not thrive is our failure to put in place well trained and cared for leadership. Successful church small groups will not happen with mediocre leadership. Here are three components for effectiveness in small group leadership:
1. Basic Training
Every small group leader should complete a basic training process. Small group basic training needs to involve at least two elements. The first is an apprenticeship or time as an assistant group leader.
The second component of basic training is a one-time training event where every new leader prepares for what successful small group leadership involves. I suggest an 8-hour process that involves:
- The purpose and philosophy of groups
- The meaning of New Testament Community
- Expectations for the group leader
- What a successful small group meeting looks like
- How to care for people in the group
Don’t even think about putting a new leader in place without basic training. Now on to number two.
2. Ongoing Training
There are at least seven reasons that people quit serving:
- It wasn’t clear what I was supposed to do.
- I wasn’t sure who I was responsible to.
- I didn’t receive any real training or direction.
- No one ever told me how I was doing.
- I was continually asked to do more and more until it became too much.
- I was forgotten after I started the job.
- No one ever said thank you.
Have you thought these seven things through with your group leaders? Basic training is not the final training stop for group leaders. Without ongoing training, you will have siloed, unhealthy groups and high leader turnover.
I recommend implementing ongoing training four times a year. Consider scheduling a three-hour gathering once per quarter and addressing:
- Where you are headed in the next three months
- Issues for improvement and training
- Getting everyone on the same page
Now on to the final step for successful small group leadership:
3. Monthly Connect
Looking to make your small groups successful? Meet with every group leader monthly. These meetings do not need to be one on one but can (and should be) one on two or one on three. In your monthly meetings, your primary goal is not to train but to connect and listen. Ask questions like:
- What is going well in your group?
- Where are you struggling in your group?
- What do you need from me?
- What changes are you planning to make in the next month?
If you meet in groups of 2 or 3, you will find that leaders sharpen each other as they interact.
Want to finally have a successful groups ministry?
- Implement Basic Training
- Commit to Quarterly Ongoing Training
- Meet with Each Leader Monthly
Implement all three and watch your groups move to new levels of effectiveness.