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When I started out as a Small Group Point Person, I was new to ministry and new to the concept of Small Groups. I picked up every book, watched every talk, and listened to every teaching on groups that I could find. Like any other aspect of ministry, I wanted to quickly achieve the levels of excellence that I read about and execute practices that I learned over my time in developing a plan for small groups. Looking back, I believe that I ran past many opportunities within my ministry that would have better served our church community.
NUMBERS DO NOT MATTER
I know what you are thinking, but hear me out. When I started leading groups, I was consumed with more, more, more. Yes, growing the number and having a broader impact is so important, but ensuring quality and a sound discipleship process should take precedence. Once the process is solidified, a point person is freed to think exponential growth with an invigorated freedom. It is essential to not run past a prayerfully established discipleship direction and method in the name of more. The most important result of groups is to see lives changed for the glory of God and eternity changed, for the better of God’s Kingdom.
DO NOT LEAD EVERYTHING
I initially started a family group with my wife, which quickly became our second family, and a men’s group that I played basketball with. These were fantastic and fed me tremendously. I soon felt internal pressure to lead additional groups that I wanted to see at our church, but they lacked a willing leader to take the mantle. While the group, topic, study, or availability may be essential to growing, it is possible that the timing is just not for now. A point person should never feel the pressure to lead outside of his or her capability, whatever the reason may be. Point people cannot burn out quickly either. It may take some time, but be patient and recruit strategic leaders instead.
ASK FOR HELP
Often times, point people can be tempted to believe we can do things best on our own or we can simply not want to bother others with our issues. Either way, it is important to understand that we cannot go at this alone. We must lean into God’s word, time in prayer, and seeking God’s guidance. Additionally, God has surrounded us with people to resource His work. One of my greatest go-to’s now is my fellow staff and teammates. I ask for insight, creative ideas, and for partnership in small group leadership. As group point people, we often preach the importance of not living in isolation and we cannot lead isolation either!
DON’T WAIT FOR PERFECTION
There were many things that I held off on starting because it wasn’t exactly perfect. This took me a while to learn but evidently people are not perfect. Sometimes processes, no matter how perfected, get a little messy because people are messy. I now implement practices that resource and care for our leaders, knowing that each practice will take some time to get “right” (and when that happens we’ll have to adjust some more), because I believe it will better our group leaders. So once you’ve properly developed and planned for a new element for your groups, allow for your processes to grow, perfect, and strengthen as you are purposefully practicing them.
BEND SOME RULES
I am someone who has a hard time stepping outside of what is supposed to happen. I used to be very strict in what groups were permitted to do, how they were advertised, or when/ where they could meet. If every group couldn’t do it or enjoy a particular matter, I couldn’t let one group do so. I found myself saying NO! far too frequently and I needed to loosen my grip a little bit. I was met with some advice from our Lead Pastor, that it is ok to “do for one, with what you wish you could do for all.” It’s ok to make exceptions, highlight some, or open doors when they’re supposed to be closed. If permitting a group to operate outside of the norm from time to time helps better one person’s life, then it is totally worth it.
Each of these five statements affect various areas of ministry but ultimately point back to the resourcing, building, and empowering of the individuals within our small groups. Let’s continue to disciple, serve and lift up the people of our churches.