Developing Small Group Leaders

Developing Small Group Leaders

September 26th 2022
Advice / For leaders / Starting a group

There is no doubt that many of our churches would benefit from having more small groups (typically only 25% of Sunday attendees are in a small group) These small groups ideally encourage a sense of Christian community where we disciple and support each other to help us live out our faith in everyday life. Often the challenge is not a shortage of people wanting to be in these groups but rather those who are able to lead them.
I recently had the privilege of being at a vibrant multicultural church in the heart of the East End of London. I was attending a celebration of the work of the Church Pastor and his wife who were retiring after 20 years of leadership. Over this time, David and Jean have been passionate about small groups.

As different people from the congregation shared their thanks, a common theme emerged. Many of them got to know Pastor David, (as they called him) by attending a small group that he ran. This group ran for a few weeks and was attended by potential small group leaders. By doing this David was intentionally giving his time and energy to a vital part of church life, namely the small groups. He was ensuring that the groups these people might lead in the future would have the DNA running through them that he had a passion to see. Not surprisingly, the church has a large number of healthy small groups and a high percentage of the congregation attending these.

I am telling you this story because I believe that small groups are becoming more and more vital as we look to make missional disciples of Jesus in the 21st century. People need places were their voices can be heard, where encouragement is given and received and where growth in personal faith in Jesus can be fostered. We need more people who will actively carry the kingdom of God into every sphere of life. Good small groups make this happen.

David regularly ran these training groups to ensure he had enough leaders. You could do the same with the help of a simple booklet, which has three sections:
1) The first section contains material to be read by each participant on their own prior to joining the group. This gives biblical background and looks at the beliefs and values that underlie small groups. We then look at how small groups sit within the broader picture of church life and the connections made with other church activities. This reading lays the foundations for an understanding of small groups and has reflection questions to help the trainees apply it to their particular situation.

2) The second section contains material for discussion. So it is at this point that the training group meets together. This section has three parts designed to be discussed across three sessions, we suggest each session runs for around 90 mins making it practical to run in an evening. The material for each of these discussion meetings is read beforehand by the participants. The group facilitator can lead the discussion around the questions at the end of each section. We have also included a welcome question to ask at the beginning of each session, which we anticipate will be answered by each person in turn to set the atmosphere to be one of participation.

3) The third section contains three outlines for the group to experience. This creates an experience of small group life which demonstrates how the previous two sections are worked out in practice. The idea is that this last section gives a taste of how a small group can run and be effective, demonstrating facilitative leadership, participation and learning shared from the group through this experience!
So it works like this, you read the opening three chapters on your own, meet as a group for discussion for three sessions using the next three chapters, and then meet for three sessions to see how it works using the outlines and material in the last three chapters, what could be simpler?

The booklet described called Developing Leaders and is available from Cell UK.