One thing about church during a time of pandemic is certain: we need to do more things in smaller groups. The limiting factor for reaching people is no longer how many people you can gather in one place; it is how many leaders you can raise up.The limiting factor for reaching people is no longer how many people you can gather in one place; it is how many leaders you can raise up. Click To Tweet
How can you raise up new leaders amidst pandemic restrictions? I’ll walk you through a template I’m personally using right now. Feel free to adapt it as needed for your context.
Small group leaders incubator group
Essentially, I am leading a group of leaders and developing their skills by starting, modeling, and debriefing a small group with them as a part of it. When this group ends, each of them starts their own group. In the meantime, they learn by watching, taking part, asking questions, and thinking through how similar approaches could be used in their own groups.
Here is the general outline of the small group meeting:
- 6:15pm to 6:30pm – arrival and socializing time
- 6:30pm to 7:00pm – dinner together
- 7:00pm to 8:00pm – group meeting
- Lighting of candle – “Jesus is the light of world and is present through the Holy Spirit.”
- Sharing: “How did you experience God this week?”
- Worship: “Let’s praise God for who He is and what He’s done.”
- Scripture: lectio divina and/or passage discussion with focus on response
- Encouraging and praying for one another (Hebrews 10:23-25)
- Who are you serving? In whom do you see God working?
- How can we pray for you?
- Blessing and commissioning – “As we go, may God guide us to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
- 8:00pm to 8:30pm – debrief the group experience, Q&A
The outline is simple and it works for both a small group or a house church. It provides new leaders with structure to help them, and if they are part of an incubator they can just copy what they saw.
3 leadership development principles at work
1. By letting people process, the time becomes more Spirit-led than content led. The facilitator must trust the Holy Spirit to be at work in people’s lives.Small group facilitators must trust the Holy Spirit to be at work in people’s lives. Click To Tweet
2. The openness of the experience leads people toward a personal response toward God. The facilitator has no agenda other than to encourage people to take their next step in their faith journey.If the goal is to help people personally respond to God, a small group facilitator should have no agenda other than to encourage people to take their next step in their faith journey. Click To Tweet
3, The questions used help people shift to an outward focus, toward something larger than themselves. Cultivating an outward focus is an essential element when multiplying church leadership.Cultivating an outward focus is an essential element when multiplying church leadership. Click To Tweet
Small group leaders spur others on
One passage I particularly like to use as a reading is Hebrews 10:23-25; it helps people think through how they may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (NLT)
In the incubator I have led, people have been astonished at how the Spirit could lead through this very simple process without a lot of pre-planned content. That’s incredibly helpful for new leaders… and you will need a lot of new small group leaders in order to thrive today—and in the future.You will need a lot of new small group leaders in order to thrive today—and in the future. Click To Tweet
This blog entry is part of a series called “Journey toward a new beginning.” Each entry explores a different topic in light of the Covid-related question: “What if things stay the way they are for the next three to four years? What would you do?” You can see the original blog entry here.
Finding the Flow– Both encouraging and equipping, Finding the Flow is an excellent book to place in the hands of new small group leaders.
Finding the Flow Small Group Leader Training– Covering everything from asking good questions and active listening listening to conflict resolution, this is a ready-to-go kit for Small Group Leader Training. The downloadable leader guide, powerpoint presentation, and participant guides make it easy to adapt training to online meetings as well.