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Cast vision for the win

Jesus defined the mission for his church as making disciples.

Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This defines the “win” – the measure of success – for small groups. The purpose of small groups is not defined by Christian culture, but by Jesus. It’s easy for groups to get off-mission in favor of personal or cultural priorities. The role of small group coaches is to reinforce that mission. If the win is fuzzy, our groups will never achieve it.

The first win in a group is when group members are going “full circle” in their pursuit of God. People start by trusting Jesus. Then they learn to live to honor God. Eventually they grow mature by helping others pursueu God. This means small group members learn to make disciples themselves. As small group leaders mentor co-leaders and team members, they then mentor members of the group. The small group is a safe place for group members to learn how to mentor others in the group, as well as those outside.

The second win for groups is when the group goes “full circle” by reproducing itself. Groups have a life-cycle. They start up. They grow together. Eventually, if healthy, they reproduce. As group members go full circle, it catalyzes the group to go full circle – and vice versa. The coach’s job is to cast vision for this goal and to move leaders toward it. This should always be in the coach’s mind.

The ultimate win for a church is not just to have or multiply small groups, but to make disciples who make disciples. This also happens in families and in one-on-one mentoring relationships. But small groups have a vital role to play in any disciplemaking church.

Redirect non-aligned behavior

Traditional small group methods and goals will not achieve our vision to make disciples who make disciples. So coaches help point groups in the right direction. Old habits are hard to break, so coaches need to gently cast vision and give practical input to redirect groups toward the win.

Provide loving accountability

Accountability is hard to embrace, but it really matters to succeed at the mission.

Titus 2:15 You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.

Paul gave Titus three key leadership responsibilities: teach, encourage, and correct. This is also how we mentor small group leaders. You have authority to do that based on your formal position in your church’s small group ministry. But you also gain authority based on how much you know about small groups and mentoring, and based on how much you care about your leaders.

Accountability is based on existing small group standards, primarily as found in the Small Group Leader Job Description. You will teach, encourage, and correct leaders based on the two core tasks outlined there: create a healthy group environment, and develop the people in the group.

When you find it necessary to take action to help keep a group on track, it’s wise to focus on one issue at a time. Discern the most critical issue and start there. If a group’s leaders don’t want accountability, you should consider no longer listing, promoting, or supporting that group.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Describe a time when personal correction or encouragement helped you. What happened?
  4. Read Matthew 28:18-20. What does “full circle” look like for individual Christians? What are some faulty definitions of Christian maturity?
  5. How is small group success traditionally defined in Christian circles? Evaluate those standards in light of Matthew 28.
  6. What happens if group leaders and coaches are fuzzy about what the “win” really is?
  7. When a group is going “full circle”, how does that help its members go “full circle”? When members are going “full circle”, how does that help a group go “full circle”?
  8. Read Titus 2:15. Identify the three activities that are part of mentoring small group leaders. (Compare Key Coaching Behaviors.) What are we trying to teach our leaders?
  9. When might group leaders most need to be encouraged? How can you encourage them?
  10. When do group leaders need correction? How would you go about providing correction?
  11. Where does your authority to correct group leaders come from? How might it be misused?
  12. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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