Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category


Good to GREAT groups – Essential #1 Leadership

March 31, 2010

Who wants to be in an ‘ok’ small group.  Not me……been in far too many of those already.  I want to be in a group that nourishes and feeds my soul.

In the previous post, 5 essentials of small groups were mentioned that are required for a group to be great: leadership, vision, community, discipleship, & mission.  Without any of these, a group will struggle to reach its redemptive potential and exist in varying levels of mediocrity.  The next 5 posts will journey into each of these 5 essentials.

The greatness of any organization is always dependent upon leadership.  Same goes for small groups.  While I believe it’s possible for a small group to have a great leader and not be great, I don’t believe it’s possible for a group to be great without a great leader.  Leadership sets the tone: leaders provide vision…an excitement for what is to come; a leader’s level of honesty, openness, and transparency establishes the relational temperature and dna of every group; a leader’s example & facilitation creates an atmosphere of spiritual growth; a leader’s intentionality prevents a group from turning inward and faces them outward.

If you lead a group ask yourself: 

Are you leading yourself well?  If not, how do you expect to lead others well?  Are you growing spiritually?  If not, how do you expect God to use you to grow others spiritually?  Are you a transparent, come as you are leader?  If not, how will your group ever get to that place where members freely share their lives with each other so that transformation can take place?  Are you a servant leader?  If not, how will your group ever move from a focus on itself to a focus on what God can do through them?

As the saying goes, “Speed of the leader, speed of the team.”  GREAT groups become great because of leaders who lead them to greatness.


Leading Challenging People

October 20, 2009

It seems like every small group has its challenges…’s always messy at some level.  Was Jesus’ small group challenging?  I would say yes.  The disciples argued over power, they said he didn’t care, they doubted him, they questioned him ….. messy.  The ‘messy’ part of relationships is usually due to the fact that none of us are the same (which is a reason to celebrate!), but how do we deal with the person that seem to always create a negative tension whenever they are present?  You know who I mean…the loose cannon, the conversation monopolizer, the “I speak for my spouse’ person, the ‘Yeah, but..’ guy, the constant ‘go against the flow’ gal, or the infamous ‘conversation buster’.

Here are a few steps to deal with the challenging people in your groups:

ENCOURAGE– Sometimes all it takes is to help someone gain awareness and sensitivity to how they may be negatively affecting the group dynamic.  Once they have an ‘aha’ moment, ask them for their help.  For example, if they are a conversation monopolizer let them know how great a contributor they are and ask them if they recognize that not many others engage in group conversation.  Ask them to help you get others involved by talking less and inviting others into the conversation.  Here is the key, whatever it is you invite them to help you with, make sure you affirm them when you observe them helping!

DISCUSSION – If the ‘Encouragement’ level is not working, sit down and discuss how you can help someone grow in the area they are struggling with.  This form of personalized leadership will convey an authentic sense of caring.  When feeling cared for, most people will be willing to deal with the issues at hand with an open mindset.

ADMONISH – This is the ‘warning’ approach.  There are instances when a leader needs to step in and get an issue resolved or the group may not survive.  Don’t forget that its very probable that the unruly person is not just unruly in small group.  They are likely this way at home, at work etc. and the sandpaper effect that they have will never change unless they are challenged.  True friends stab each other in the front!

Encourage, Discuss, Admonish.  A 3-step approach that will help with your challenging relationships.  Lead strong.


Developing Leaders – Part 2

October 19, 2009

We use a very simple model to help encourage, equip, and vision cast to small group leaders at Oakbrook.  Over the past 6 years we have tried various methods of coaching and leadership development with limited success.  I’m not saying that the models of coaching and leadership development that I have read about in books and heard about at conferences do not work, but for us, these so called ‘advanced’ models just didn’t resonate with our leaders.

We do not have a coaching model.  Not saying we won’t in the future, but our attempts at coaching have never worked.  I know that books and research will tell you that leaders want to be cared for and that a coaching model is the answer, but what we have found is that leaders feel most loved and cared for when that is supplied by their own group members.  Therefore, we have tried to model a culture where the leader is as dependent on his/her group for care as the other group members.

If a leader needs vision or direction to lead their group, then they are free to contact myself or anyone on the group leadership team that they are a part of.  It’s the old doctor-patient theory.  I don’t want my doctor calling me and checking up on me, but I sure do want my doctor to be accessible when I am sick.  That is the design we use, if you need us we are here for you, but we are not going to check up on you regularly and ask for extra time from you that we know you don’t have to give.

Then we also have a model of leadership equipping and vision casting that every small group leader is a part of.  Group leaders are placed on a leadership team that meets about 3-4 times/year.  Each team is comprised of about 8-12 people.  We do our best to take the ‘meeting’ feel out of these events as much as we can by including a ‘table’ experience (meal) every time we meet.  The evenings are as much about enjoying a meal with other leaders as it is about anything else but after the meal we will engage in a conversation that allows me to provide vision and leadership training.  We’ve been doing this for about 2 years and I can honestly say that we avg. 90% or better attendance!

For me, as our church’s small group director, these nights not only catalyze the ministry but they allow me to get face to face with all of our leaders and really hear what is going on in their individual groups.  I leave these evenings energized and able to refocus on areas that leaders clearly identify in our discussions.  It’s a win-win setup.  It is so much better than some type of all leader group training event because everyone gets to engage and I get to really know where everyone is at.  From here, I can also set up 1 on 1’s if the need is there.

This system gives our leaders a lot of freedom, but so far they have used their freedom well and are doing a great job leading their individual groups.  Your feedback and comments are always appreciated!


Developing Leaders – Part 1

August 21, 2009

Here is a short snapshot, written by one of my great friend / mentors at Oakbrook (Morgan Young), about how we develop and empower small group leaders at Oakbrook Church….check it out…..I will expand on our strategy in a future post.  Would love to hear what you do to successfully equip and serve your leaders!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Leading the Leaders

Sandra and I went to “Small Group Leader Training” tonight. Jason Braun, Oakbrook’s Director of Connections gets together these informal huddles of group leaders to share a pitch-in meal then talk about leadership, vision—generally, how to be better group leaders.

It’s a very informal evening that’s conducive to connecting, sharing and learning. Jason gets leaders together about once per quarter in someone’s home.

If you’re a group leader and haven’t been to one of these, you’re missing out! (more pics)


60-40 Principle

February 4, 2009

Over the past 5+ years as a ‘small groups’ guy, I have had several conversations with frustrated group leaders wondering why their groups just won’t ‘take off’ like they had hoped.

Here is my answer: 

A small group is not a program or a thing to do as part of ‘doing church’, it is a way of life. 

In short, a group that meets 2x/month will not likely end up where you hope.  In fact, more than likely, groups that meet 2x/month usually result in a conversation where I am trying to rescue a wayward leader from committing small group suicide.

None of us need another thing to do.  What we need is a new way to live.

I believe that we need to lead our groups into a relational way of life like the one modeled by the early church.  A life that is modeled by loving and serving others not a life that is controlled by our schedules and ‘to do’ lists.  There is immediate tension when we evaluate this for ourselves and when we try to steer others in this direction, but it is a tension that we all need to fight because it is a fight of selfish vs. selfless.

Groups are a way of life.  I thought these comments by Scott Boren in his book, The Relational Way, were very practical for us as leaders as we evaluate the current health and future direction of the groups we lead:

“The vision for small groups must extend beyond the weekly meetings.  The small group meeting is crucial to group life, but in my experience in participating and leading effective groups, the meeting contributes about 40% to the life of a healthy group.  The other 60% is a result of random life connections between group members.  Good meetings are important, but we need life connections with people who will love us, challenge us, pray for us, and support us.  This cannot be done in ninety minutes once a week or twice a month.”

Read Acts 2.  This small group thing is a way of life.  Quit settling for anything less and lead people to begin living this way with you.

The Community Channel is back.  Let the dialog begin.


Leadership Proverb

December 4, 2008

A man was asked if he weren’t spending too much of his time serving and giving too much away.  His gentle but honest response was, “I wonder if you will say that after we’re dead.”

Jesus came to serve not to be served ……. Jesus gave everything He had …. may we seek to do the same.