Why Most People Don’t Want to Lead Small Groups

  • 13 February 2017
  • Keith Reed

Small GroupsI’ve never heard of a church that has too many small group leaders. Too many ushers? Maybe. Too many musicians? Possibly. Too many small group leaders? Highly unlikely.

And yet, I know many churches that have grand visions for their small group ministry. Statements like, “we want to be a church of small groups” or “we want everyone to be in a small group.” All of them? Wouldn’t this require a massive influx of group leaders?

Herein lies the problem—you can’t multiply small groups if you don’t have small group leaders. For as motivated as some people may be to join a small group, their ambition will come to a screeching halt when they discover that the bus they’re about to board is missing its driver. 

Small group leaders don’t just appear—they must be developed.

But developing small group leaders comes with a set of challenges. Beyond the obvious task of equipping individuals for this position is another hurdle you might have to clear—most people don’t want to lead small groups. And the reason they don’t want to lead is directly tied to the expectations they believe a small group leader needs to fulfill. Many people feel that leading a small group:

    • Is categorially different than participating in a small group
    • Requires significant biblical knowledge and theological training 
    • Requires a lot of preparation time 
    • Is an unending commitment
    • Is a solo act 

Expectations of small group leaders may extend beyond this list, but these five make a sufficient point—there are many valid reasons why people don’t want to lead small groups. And these objections don’t necessarily mean that a person is less committed to discipleship. They’re simply considering if the role is a good fit (to which they should be commended).

Depending on how your small group ministry is structured, you might be able to lessen the objections that potential leaders might have. Maybe group leaders are provided with teaching curriculum to follow or maybe there’s a designated time for groups to break or disband.

It’s possible that you can convince people to lead small groups and that you can develop creative ways to limit the obstacles. But this approach will leave you wondering if these groups will be led with the appropriate amount of passion that comes when the right people are leading from the right positions. 

Developing a Strategic Pathway for Discipleship in Your Church

  • 27 June 2016
  • Randy Wollf

In my experience as a pastor and in my interactions with other church leaders, I know that churches sometimes struggle with how to make disciples most effectively. Approaches that worked well in the past may not be as effective today. 

In this blog, we will look at a holistic process for making disciples that involves churches growing in 11 key areas. This strategic pathway of discipleship attempts to integrate a biblical understanding of discipleship with an understanding of contemporary culture. Obviously, some elements may be more important in a particular context while other elements not included in this list may need to be considered.

1. Prayer Saturation 

Prayer permeates disciple-making churches. How can we grow a culture of prayer—a culture in which God delights to work deeply in peoples' lives? Here are nine suggestions I have for how churches can grow in prayer

2. Loving Christ-Centred Community 

Discipleship occurs best in deep communities where people lovingly practice life-on-life discipleship. What can leaders do to develop this kind of intimacy? I believe leaders need to create opportunities for people to develop and grow disciple-making relationships and then model how this is done. Here are 8 characteristics the flow from a Christ-centred community.  

3. Growth Orientation 

When everything in the church is geared toward helping people take next steps, growth becomes normative and expected. Discipleship can flourish in this kind of growth-oriented environment.  

Responding to Life's Hardest Question

  • 18 May 2016
  • Keith Reed

How are you doing? 

I hesitate whenever I’m asked this question. I partly blame this on society’s strange social norms (does the person asking really want to know?) and partly on my upbringing (my mother taught me to grunt instead of reply to see if cashiers noticed). But I will admit that my delayed response is also the result of needing more time to develop an answer. I am asked this question by others far more often than I ask it of myself.

When a close friend asks how I’m doing, the question takes on new meaning. I believe they're asking me to share the status of my soul or my being. Even so, I will sometimes choose to talk about my latest doings of life which doesn’t reach the heart of the question. Talking about my doings doesn’t always address the health of my soul because my doings may be fine, but my being may not be (and vice versa).

To make this question even more confusing, consider it within the context of pursuing Jesus. “How is your spiritual life?” is a question that understandably stumps many people. I think it might be more complex than the unwritten rules of baseball. Once again, responses to this question often focus on doing actions such as Bible reading, prayer, and church involvement. Our souls are shaped by spiritual habits, but they don’t tell the whole story. 

The questions that we ask each other should reflect what we really want to know. “How are you doing?” may work in some cases, but if we want to stir up self-examination, I think we can do better. 

Dallas Willard and John Ortberg crafted two insightful questions that I discovered several years ago. They aren’t perfect, but they dig beneath the surface and serve as excellent conversation starters: 

  • Are you becoming increasingly more irritable? 
  • Are you becoming increasingly more discouraged? 

When I ponder these questions, the activities of my life collide with the condition of my soul. I discover the connection between my doing and my being. This helps me consider the reasons and causes for why I’m feeling the way that I am. For example: