This topic is adapted from the PursueGOD Network YouTube channel.
It’s rare for a small group to start with a full team of co-leaders. The people who will share leadership with you need to be developed. This involves sharing ministry with them to give them opportunities to grow. It is usually easier to do something ourselves rather than train and trust someone else to do it. Every leader has to resist that temptation. Giving ministry away to others is messy! It requires preparation and follow-up. We sometimes have to clean up people’s mistakes. But the long term result is well worth it!
Prepare in a New Way
Developing others will require us to prepare in a different way. You have to think not just what you’re going to do and say, but what you’re going to ask others to do and say. For example, you don’t think about what snacks to bring. You think about who will bring the snacks. The leader’s preparation is not so much about planning a meeting or a lesson, but about involving people. You must constantly be thinking about your group in terms of how someone else can do what you normally would do.
Try not to do anything alone. As you prepare, do it with your team. Try to give away everything you do. People are at different capacities. Some can help with snacks. Others can host. Some can lead the prayer time. Others can lead part of the discussion. Let others host. Take turns with these kind of basic functions. Use the Team Meeting Planner to prepare to talk with your team about what responsibilities to give away, and to whom.
A Little Bit at a Time
Give ministry away incrementally, one bite at a time. Give small duties or one-time assignments to find out who might have the potential for greater responsibility. Some people will demonstrate more gifting. As they do, refocus their assignments to reflect their gifts. Some people will demonstrate more faithfulness. As they do, give them more responsibility. Everyone can serve in the group in some way, but a few will become potential co-leaders. As you identify these people, gradually increase their responsibility until you are ready to include them as part of your team. Make sure they have gone through Foundations. Take them through Mentor Training. But you can’t find out who they are unless you give them opportunities to share the ministry.
Co-leading doesn’t mean your co-leaders have equal authority or responsibility with you – at least, not at first. You still lead. But coming alongside you, they experience everything it means to lead. Pray and envision together with them. Prep with them. Let them lead conversations, starting with one part at a time. Give them follow-up and mentoring responsibilities with group members – as they are ready. Talk about every assignment afterwards. Be sure to take them through Small Group Training so they understand everything you do to lead your group. Eventually they will be able to do it as well, because they have done each aspect of it successfully more than once.
This process of developing leaders will not happen unless you decide to make it a priority. It’s easy to just do the bare minimum to lead your group week in and week out. Leaders who develop other leaders have to plan for it. It won’t happen by accident.
The Goal Is to Reproduce
As a leader, you need to learn to lead in a way that is reproducible. The end goal is to make disciples who make disciples. You are a success as a leader when you have trained others to do what you can do. Eventually they will teach others to do what you have taught them. Continue adding to your team as you identify and develop potential co-leaders over time. Ideally, when you reproduce your group, you can send out not just one trained leader, but a whole leadership team.
- 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?
- What do you find most challenging about delegating responsibilities to others?
- How will preparing for your group be different if you plan to develop new leaders? How do you feel about this?
- What happens if you give someone too much responsibility too quickly? How might this affect a small group?
- When should you invite someone to become part of your group’s leadership team? When should you call them a “co-leader”?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.