Posts Tagged ‘small group leadership’


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 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.


Leaders, are YOU a shepherd?

December 9, 2008

We’ve probably all heard the concept of shepherd leadership.  But do we really think about what this means?  Do we lead like shepherds?  Jesus does.

Shepherds guide their sheep…they never drive them.  In fact, if you try and drive a group of sheep they will scatter…..the way to move a group of sheep is to lead them in the direction you want them to go.

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording over those entrusted you, but being examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of glory that will never fade away.”   1 Peter 5:2-4

We are called to lead like shepherds.  But remember, the life of a shepherd yields little glory.  Sheep are very frustrating to lead!  But that does not mean we stop leading like a shepherd.  It is so easy for us as leaders to put tasks before people and when we do, we stop leading and begin ‘driving’ people in the direction we want them to go.  We begin looking at people as the objects that help us achieve our goals rather than people we are called to love and serve.  Just like sheep, when we ‘drive’ people rather than ‘love’ people they will scatter.

Leaders, are YOU leading like a shepherd?  Or are the people you are leading scattering in many different directions?  May we all strive to lead like Jesus….the Great Shepherd.


Organic Community – Measurement

June 23, 2008

“We have 175 small groups in our church.”  “45% of our congregation is in a small group.”  “The small group I lead meets every other week and we have an 80% attendance rate.”  “We had 300 people show up at the church picnic.”  In our feeble attempts to measure community, I am pretty confident that we have given answers and heard answers similar to those just stated.  I have heard of small group pastors that were fired because their effectiveness was matched to these types of bottom line measurements.

This leads us to an important question: How do we measure success in community?  Can you take a bottom line approach?  Is a numerical measurement of how many people are connected a valid way to assess the health of what is really happening?

Joe Myers, in his book ‘Organic Community’, believes that the answer to this question is found by asking ourselves what we are hoping for.  I agree.  If we simply want everyone in a group, then a bottom line approach may work.  But if we want to create spaces where people find authentic connection and learn to become disciples of Christ, a bottom line measurement will not help us out.

Authentic connection and spiritual growth cannot be measured by the presence or lack of presence in any one space.  For example, the fact that you or I are in a small group does not mean that we are experiencing authentic connection or spiritual growth.  Or if you or I go to a weekend retreat, does that qualify us for now being connected into the life of our church?  Of course not.

So how can we measure community?  Here is what I have found to be true, feel free to disagree.  In order to measure community we must first identify what it is we are hoping to achieve through our connecting efforts.  Once that is accomplished, we then measure our efforts through story.  Here is what I mean.  At Oakbrook Church (my home), we want small groups to pursue 3 things: Intimacy with Christ, Community with Insiders, & Influence with Outsiders.  Every small group leader is coached to go after these 3 ideals with their group.  With these 3 purposes of group life now known, we can measure our effectiveness through the use of story.  In other words, we ask group members if these 3 values are being pursued.  The stories we hear allow us to measure the effectiveness of our communities.  Make sense?

Here is a great example of the power of story as a measurement tool for life.  Our church was challenged to grow in generosity towards others and as we did that we were encouraged to share our experiences on our church blog.  Look up ‘Salt Packet’ stories and read through all the comments.  Story is powerful and life changing.

Bottom line measurements offer some value but in the context of community what we are measuring is life and we simply cannot measure life with statistics.  We measure life through story.

“Shared stories may not fit neat and tidy into a chart or on the back of a Sunday bulletin, but we grow to trust them as a powerful way to measure whether what we are hoping for is taking place.  Shared stories are the easiest way to ensure what is important is taken into account.  Story helps us measure the life of our communities.”  (Joe Myers – Organic Community p.80)

Question:  What are the most effective measuring tools you have used to measure community?  The Community Channel wants to know!