This topic is adapted from the PursueGOD Network YouTube channel.
Effective small group leaders are more than just meeting managers. Group meetings are important. But the goal of your group is to make disciples. That starts in group meetings, but it also calls for leaders to equip people outside of the weekly meeting time.
Pray for Group Members
The most fundamental kind of ministry outside of the group meeting itself: pray regularly for each member of the group. This grows your heart toward them. Also involves God in doing more than you can do to change lives. Here’s how one spiritual leader put it:
1 Samuel 12:23 (NIV) As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.
Use the Phone
Every Christian – including small group leaders – is called to care for others in God’s family.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.
Yet caring for people in the group doesn’t have to always be a big time commitment. A quick phone call or text message between meetings can convey your care and availability. Send a text: “I’ve been praying for your situation at work.” You can also use the phone to pray with someone. “I was thinking about what you shared last Tuesday. How is that going? Can I pray for you about that?” Keep it short and to the point.
Have Follow-Up Appointments
There will be times when someone needs some personal input that goes beyond what you can do in the meeting. Maybe more time. Maybe some confidentiality. Schedule a time to meet. It might be just once. Prepare your co-leaders for these kind of appointments. Think of follow-up as very short-term mentoring. Find an appropriate conversation in the pursueGod.org library. Send it in advance. Talk about it when you meet. Be open to the prospect that some of follow-up appointments will open the door to longer term mentoring relationships.
Mentor Your Co-Leaders
Caring for group members beyond the meeting isn’t just up to you. That could be a big burden. Spend some time intentionally mentoring and training future leaders who can share that ministry with you. The apostle Paul wanted to make sure God’s people were cared for, but he didn’t do it all himself.
Ephesians 6:22 I am sending Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord…to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.
Help your co-leaders honor God in their lives. Then train them how to help others pursue God. Use videos in the small group library. Take them through mentor training. The most strategic investment you can make that takes place outside of the group meeting is to multiply yourself by sharing ministry and leadership with others.
Get Mentoring Going in the Group
Once you have set the tone by being a mentor in the group, start working to equip everyone in the group to become mentors. Beyond your co-leaders.
Ultimately, your impact as a disciple-maker depends on how much you catch the vision to extend your ministry beyond just leading a meeting. As you invest some time outside the weekly group meeting, that’s when you will really see people go full circle in pursuit of God.
- 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?
- Do you agree or disagree: “Effective small group leaders are more than just meeting managers.” Why?
- Why do you think small group leaders often tend to become mainly “meeting managers”?
- Read 1 Samuel 12:23. Is it a sin to not pray for the members of your group? Why or why not?
- What are some practical ways to use the phone to encourage and care for your group members? What are some challenges of using the phone?
- Think of a recent situation in your group where a follow-up appointment might have been worthwhile. What happened?
- Given your current schedule and commitments, how many follow-up appointments do you think you could handle in a given month?
- Why is mentoring co-leaders the most strategic thing you can do to extend your impact beyond the weekly meeting?
- Who are your co-leaders (or people in the group who have the potential to become co-leaders)? Choose one person and talk about some possible next steps with that individual.
- Describe your vision of what could happen in your group if you and your co-leaders start to extend your ministry beyond the weekly meeting.
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.