10 Commandments of Small Group Ministry

By Mark Howell

CommandmentsI’m sure there are commandments beyond these.  I could be wrong.  I frequently am.  But I believe these 10 commandments are at the very core of a small group ministry that changes communities:

  1. Connect people in season and out.  Unconnected people are one tough thing away from not being at your church.  See also, What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting People?
  2. Don’t lose sight of the interests of anyone.  Don’t let the interests of the people who are already connected distract you from the needs of the unconnected.  And don’t let the needs of the unconnected prevent you from designing next steps for everyone. See also, Do You Know This Connection Secret? and Connecting the Gap Between Community and Congregation.
  3. Never forget the end in mind.  Far more than simply providing a place to connect people, a small group is the optimum environment for life-change.  Effective small group ministries make disciples that make disciples.  See also, Skill Training: Design Your Group Meeting for Life-Change.
  4. Don’t set the leader bar at Jesus Jr.  To be a leader means being a step ahead (as opposed to 10 steps ahead).  See also, Leader Qualification: Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar?
  5. Pay attention to the spiritual health of leaders.  Whatever you want to happen in the lives of group members must happen in the lives of group leaders first.  See also, Life-Change at the Member Level and The One Thing Every Small Group Pastor Must Do for Small Group Leaders.
  6. Challenge your highest capacity leaders to become leaders of leaders.  There is no doubt in my mind that every church has the people God has prepared to lead leaders.  In fact, I believe we all know who they are but have never recognized the connection between their fruitfulness and fulfillment.  See also, How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure
  7. Develop a bias toward new groups.  Few things are as deadly as the tendency to supply existing groups with new members at the expense of starting new groups.  See also,New Groups Lead to a Church OF Groups and A Bias Toward New Groups.
  8. Very few will go anywhere your senior pastor hasn’t been and isn’t going.  See also, Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church OF Groups.
  9. Be able to say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  If we’re not growing, if we’re not different this year over last, if we’re not becoming more like Jesus…we can hardly expect life-change at the member level.  If we want to see life-change at the member level, the coaches in our ministries (the leaders of leaders) must see and experience our own increasing life in Christ.
  10. NEVER Settle.  The belief that you’ve found the perfect small group strategy almost always leads to protecting the status quo.  Keep your eyes on the horizon.  Just over the rise is a completely different idea that will connect the unconnected and help another generation become what God created them to be.  Don’t miss it!  See also, What’s Next in GroupLife?A Bias Toward What’s Next and The Unexpected Twist in Saddleback’s Exponential Growth Formula.

What do you think?  Have one to add?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Mark Howell

Mark Howell is the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, committed to helping churches launch, build, and sustain healthy small group ministries. He's also the Pastor of Discipleship Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church.  Having served as small group pastor at Woodlands Church and Lake Avenue Church, Mark is a seasoned veteran with experience in both the contemporary and the traditional church. In addition, he served as a consultant with Lifetogether and as a host for the Purpose Driven Campaign Coaching programs. You can read Mark's blog at www.markhowelllive.com or follow him on twitter.