I’ve written quite a bit about small group pastors. I’ve shared their most important contribution and what they need to know on day one. I’ve talked about their most common rookie mistakes and biggest problems.
What I haven’t written about is what a small group pastor needs to be preoccupied with, obsessed with, in order to succeed in their role. With an obvious reference to Patrick Lencioni’s fabulous book, here are the four obsessions:
Obsessed with connecting unconnected people. Others may share this obsession, but if you’re going to build a thriving small group ministry it will be because there is an obsession with connecting unconnected people. Far beyond any kind of vague awareness of their loneliness or sense that they are just a face in the crowd, this obsession is rooted in two certainties:
- Unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at your church again.
- The optimal environment for life-change is a small group.
Your obsession with connecting unconnected people should lead you to develop deep knowledge of the real numbers of unconnected people in your crowd as well as deep empathy for their predicament. This knowledge and empathy will open your eyes to the needs and interests of unconnected people. See also, What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting Unconnected People? and 5 Things You Need to Know about Connecting Unconnected People.
Obsessed with eliminating obstacles that keep new groups from forming. If you truly want to build a thriving small group ministry you will be obsessed with removing obstacles that keep new groups from forming.
- You’ll see your menu of next steps differently and work to streamline and declutter. See also, Small Group Ministry Roadblock #2: A Bloated Belong and Become Menu.
- You’ll see your communication (website, bulletin, announcements, etc.) in a whole new light and constantly seek better clarity. See also, A Smörgåsbord of Destinations vs Sequential and Tailored Next Steps.
- You’ll see leader qualifications with a new set of lenses and design easy ways to begin and nearly automatic ways to develop. See also, Customized Leader Requirements and Benefits.
Obsessed with identifying, recruiting and developing leaders of leaders. Recognizing the essential role of the coach in the spiritual development of the small group leader (and ultimately of the group member), you will always be on the lookout for high capacity men and women who have the characteristics of an effective coach. You’ll see the end in mind clearly and develop a compelling vision that will capture the imagination of the right people. See also, 6 Essential Characteristics of an Effective Small Group Coach and Life-Change at the Member Level.
Obsessed with delivering the right experience to small group members. Knowing the truth about the ingredients for life-change, you’ll work diligently to develop leaders who can do more than host and be more than a facilitator.
This realization actually drives your obsession to identify, recruit and develop leaders of leaders. This obsession with delivering the right experience to small group members will lead you to see the connection between what you do to and for leaders and what leaders do to and for members.
The obsession with delivering the right experience to members will help you evaluate small group curriculum, seeing the built in advantages and limitations.
At its essence, this obsession will drive you to see the critical importance of the leader in the promise of life-change. See also, Essential Ingredients for Life-Change and 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader.