Arnold Kiburi, pastor of small groups at Karura Community Chapel in Nairobi, Kenya, and the leader of a Small Group Network huddle in that city, was my guest recently and we talked about his 11 years of leading small group ministries in several churches.
Among the many topics we entertained was the issue of transparency. Arnold’s pointed question was, “Are you transparent, or are you telling people what they should do while you are not walking on the same road?” His point was this – he had met many small group ministry leaders who looked at small groups as an occupation. Their job was to help the congregation, but they were not in a small group themselves.
Rick Warren, senior pastor at Saddleback Church, is one of the strongest champions of small groups. He regularly shares how his own small group has been a source of comfort, encouragement, support and unconditional love. In the challenges of life, such as the tragic loss of his son a few years ago, Rick said that he found solace and embracing love in the members of his small group who encircled him and his wife through some of the toughest times.
He also regularly shares with the congregation how the fun and fellowship and even food in his small group bind everyone together into a family.
Pastor Rick Warren is an effective champion for small groups because he is in a small group.
And so, this question comes to you: are you in a small group? Do you speak from experience or from theory? Does your own small group provide you with unlimited stories of life change through life together, or are you a paid salesperson and not a satisfied customer?
The larger question is, are there other ministry leaders or pastors in your church that are not in small groups, but that have influence with the congregation?
The credibility and effectiveness of your plan to get everyone into a small group hinge on the satisfied customers in leadership in your church.
Influential satisfied customers are key. Thanks to smartphone apps and consumer websites, most of us now read customer reviews on products, we check consumer ratings, and we also ask our friends for their experiences with products and services.
Because we believe that someone that has actually used the product or service is far more believable and trustworthy than someone who is paid to convince others about it. The intentions and motivations of the paid salesperson are generally viewed with some suspicion. Those of the satisfied customer are not.
If you want to powerfully influence your congregation to get out of their seats on Sunday and into small groups during the week, leverage your experience in your own small group. And, if your senior pastor or other members of the leadership team in your church aren’t in small groups, start now to encourage them to get in one.
For some great tips on how to help pastors and other influencers in your church get on board with small groups, check out this excellent podcast with Small Group Network founder, Pastor Steve Gladen.