Leadership, Jesus, and Your Small Group Ministry

By Steve Gladen

Small group ministry is all about people.

Day in and day out at Saddleback Church I could spend the majority of my time dealing with people and mess. After all, that is why we went to Seminary—to deal with people. People aren’t an interruption, they are why we exist! So, here is the question, in a ministry filled with people,

When and can we say “no” to the people God set before us?

I know for me it is a constant struggle.

I was looking through the book of Luke the other day and saw a cool leadership point that Jesus so delicately walked—one that every small group point person and pastor must walk each day. In Luke 4:42-44 we see a part of scripture where Jesus was ministering to people. He was a huge success, so huge that we see Jesus withdrawing from the people. Scripture even says “they tried to keep him from leaving.” Jesus’ response was in essence, “No. I must keep moving.”

Now imagine the people to whom he told this. They wanted their agenda fulfilled. They probably used everything within their power to persuade Jesus to stay with them. They saw an opportunity to keep their happiest high and the miracle man with them. He was the hottest show going, the person everybody wanted to have. I’m sure they used guilt, shame, and every form of persuasion known to man…maybe even a few adult temper tantrums…because they weren’t getting their way.

But Jesus was clear: there was a bigger picture!

What was his big picture, his mission? Well you see it through the book of Luke.

  • Luke 9:51, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”
  • Luke 13:22, “teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.”
  • Luke 17:11, “now on his way to Jerusalem.”
  • Luke 18:31, “we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophet about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.”
  • Luke 19:28, “going up to Jerusalem.”

What was his mission? It was Jerusalem! Nothing was going to stop him. Even with so many moments with people, they weren’t going to side-track his mission. The microwasn’t going to mess up the macro. From this, we can glean two questions for you to stay focused in your Small Group Ministry, headed towards the destination you need to head, not sidetracked by other “good” things.

2 key questions for every small group ministry

1. What is your Jerusalem?

2. How do you love the people that get in the way of your Jerusalem?

Don’t let moments mess up your mission!

Steve Gladen

Steve Gladen is Pastor of Small Groups at Saddleback Church, which sees over 30,000 people gathering weekly in 5,000 small groups. He's the founder of SmallGroups.net and travels widely to speak on the topic of small groups and healthy, biblical community. He is the author of several books including Small Groups With Purpose and Leading Small Groups With Purpose.