A small group leader is essentially the pastor or shepherd of the group. What that means is that you care about each person. But pastoral care ultimately belongs to all of the members of the group.
A group leader provides care.
Your role starts with praying for each person. At times you might need to jump in to help a person, or to follow up with a group member from time to time. You may need to mentor different members of your group at different times.
The whole group provides care.
The Bible envisions a situation where God’s people love, value, encourage, forgive, affirm, teach, and counsel each other.
Colossians 3:12-16 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.
This suggests that personal care ultimately belongs to all the members of God’s family, not just to pastors. Likewise, it’s up to the whole group to care for each other, not just one or two leaders.
A group leader equips others to care.
So your responsibility as the group’s shepherd is to create an environment where the gifts of group members can be used to care for one another. This is what makes a group healthy and effective. That happens when the group meets, as people encourage and pray for each other. But it also happens outside the group meeting. When a need arises, someone in the group may have the resources or experience to address another person’s need.
Train people to mentor.
The caring level of your group will increase as you train group members to mentor each other. Train your co-leaders first, and share the caring responsibilities with them. (You can work this out in your regular team meetings using the Team Meeting Planner.) Then train others in the group as well. Encourage them to step up and meet each other’s needs. Trust God to work through their gifts – and help them learn to trust God as well – as you equip them and turn them loose to care for each other.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Have you ever been in a group where people really cared for each other? Describe what that was like.
- What happens in a group when the leader is doing all the caring?
- How can a leader coach and motivate the members of the group to care for each other?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.