In order to truly minister and support our small group leaders, we need to show them how much we care. Here are seven ways to do that –
Show them they are loved
People are not interested in instruction, tools, and nifty tips until they know you care about them.
What are some things we can do? Call them or send a personal note card. Grab lunch together. Baby-sit when they need a break, bring them a meal, cut their grass – be creative! It’s as simple as asking, “How can I serve you?”
Connect with them weekly
If you send out a broadcast email to all your leaders, don’t expect them to feel that you personally cared for them. However, they will feel your care if you send them a personal e-mail — one that shares a little bit about what God is doing in your life, a devotional, or a Bible verse that you sense God wanted them to hear.
If you don’t receive a reply, call them or set up a lunch date. When you connect, be “all ears”: hear their spiritual story; get the latest and greatest of what’s going on in their group; and let them share their prayer requests. If you get an answering machine, as goofy as it sounds, try leaving a prayer, which let’s them know you are praying for them.
Pray in the moment
I don’t know about you, but I used to always say, “I’ll pray for you.” But then I would forget. So one guy encouraged me to stop and pray right there in the moment. Even if you’re on the phone, ask if you can pray for them right then and there.
However, in order to pray for them, you need to be connected with them. One of the most practical ways you can do this is by visiting their group. You might think, “Visit their group? They don’t want me to come.” But arrive a half hour early and talk with them, see how you can support them.
When the group convenes, say, “I want to take a moment and pray for your leader and ask God to continue to bless them as they lead you.” That prayer shows your dependence on and your desire to gain God’s strength to be able to help them.
During your leadership huddles, it is also important to model praying in the moment. Often we come prepared with an agenda, but you can toss the agenda when someone is in need. As a group, rise up, lay hands on them, and pray for them right then and there.
Share your hurts and hopes
When you do this, leaders are more likely to do so also. It shows them you are an ordinary person, with similar pains and joys, and that you don’t know the answer to every question they have. Let them know you struggle in your faith, have battles with your kids, have arguments in your marriage, and have problems at work. Paul said God’s power is perfected in our weakness.
Thank them for serving
New leaders have a deep desire to be affirmed and appreciated, and rightly so. Never end a conversation without looking them in the eye and saying, “Thanks. It’s always great to see you. I appreciate what you’re doing.”
Give them the vision
Once you earn their trust and the right to speak, it is important to share your senior pastor’s dream for the church and also cast a vision for them to spiritually reproduce their life. Help them develop a dream beyond their group. At least challenge them to welcome a few new people into their group. It will help bring new life into their circle.
If you are going to really minister to the heart of your leaders and their groups, once in a while you need to speak the truth in love. Don’t be afraid to say something you think God wants them to hear in a time, a place, and a way that they can accept it. It could make a difference, not just for them, but for others for the sake of eternity.
Show them their value
This is different from thanking them; instead, you are reminding them that what they are doing matters. Sometimes your leaders will feel burned out, stressed, and overwhelmed. They need to be reminded of their value and that they were called to lead. Even though they may feel weary of leading, they have been called by God to do so. As a leader of leaders, continually remind them of why they are doing what they are doing.