5 Practical Ways to Try Leadership the Very First Time

Help! I can’t find enough leaders!

I don’t know about you…but that is the most common complaint/concern I hear when I talk with small group champions.  And the most common question I hear is “How can I find more leaders?”  I’ve written a number of articles in answering that question.  You can see them right here.

Today I want to talk about how to develop more leaders.  This is an essential skill for all small group leaders but it’s not intuitive for most and it will rarely happen naturally or on the initiative of your existing leaders.  If you want it to happen system-wide, you must teach the concept and develop the expectations and skills that make it happen.

Basic Concept

The basic concept is that every group has multiple people who can lead (or help lead) a group.  I’m not suggesting that everyone can lead.  I’m simply pointing out that there are many group members who actually could lead a group if they were given the opportunity and motivated somehow to try it.

Do you believe that?  I hope so.  If you believe that, then the next step is to help your existing leaders begin to practice the skills that will allow and encourage everyone who can lead to give it a try.

Leader Development Practices

Here are five practices that will help more adults give leading a try.

  • Make it a fun experiment!  As you begin a new study, let everyone know that “we’re all going to take a turn facilitating this one.”  To do that, you’ll need to select a study that requires little preparation and comes very close to leading itself (which is always a great idea).
  • Begin by handing off sections of every session.  “Bob, why don’t you lead the Connect section next week?”  “Sue, next week I’d like you to lead the prayer time at the end.  Watch how I do it this week and then you do it next week.  Okay?”  Starting members out with bite-sized assignments will ease a toe into the water of leading.  Always a good place to begin.
  • Practice sub-grouping as often as you can.  Start when you have 7 members.  Never stop.   You can begin by random sub-grouping (I’ve tried everything from counting off by threes or drawing numbers from a hat) and move to more intentional (affinities that might ultimately result in a new group).
  • Meet separately from time to time or on a regular basis.  Many groups have developed the practice of meeting together twice a month and separately twice a month (i.e., let the men and women have their own time on occasion).  This helps develop additional leadership capacity…as long as you don’t just recruit the usual suspects.
  • Broaden the invitation list for leader training events and meetings.  Encourage all of your group leaders to bring additional facilitators to your leader training events.  Include a breakout designed for new facilitators in the skill training section on your meeting agenda.

Want to develop more leaders?  Start making leader development a priority.  Better yet…start measuring the number of groups that do what we’ve talked about here.  You’ll begin to see development.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Howell

Mark Howell

I’m the Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m also LifeWay’s Small Group Specialist. I’m the the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services that help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. In addition, I’m the guy behind MarkHowellLive.com, SmallGroupResources.net, StrategyCentral.org and @MarkCHowell.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

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