The people we lead have big jobs to do.
No matter how accessible we make the role of a group leader or host, at some point, everyone realizes that serving others gets complex. Just think about all the questions that run through a group leader’s mind as they try to lead and care for the people who God has entrusted to them:
- Q What do my people really believe? Are they definitely following Jesus, just saying they are, or not even close yet?
- Q Should I confront my group member about that thing they’re doing that may be harmful?
- Q Do we need to live more on mission, and help each other serve our neighbors and friends?
- Q What do we study? What do we learn? Should I teach it? Facilitate it? Video? Book? Bible?
- Q Do we hang out enough on a regular basis? Are we living life with each other or just attending a weekly event together?
- Q Are we just hearing the Word, or are we doing it too? Do we need to hold each other accountable more effectively?
And that’s just the beginning of the list!
The hardest part about all these questions (and a long list of others) is that not a single one is wrong! They’re all good, healthy questions to consider when leading other people. But they’re also impossible to respond to all at once! When that long list is left unsimplified, two dangerous things can happen:
- The endless list of questions becomes an impossible list of checkboxes that a group leader is frantically trying to achieve, eventually burning out himself/herself out along with everyone else.
- That same list of questions becomes too overwhelming, and a group leader gives up on transformation for the sake of comfort and achievability.
As small group point people, it is our job to simplify our group leaders’ jobs. Dallas Willard said in an interview that growing spiritually meant “(doing) the next right thing you know you ought to do.” The same principle applies here:
It is our job to guide our leaders toward the next right thing for their group – not all the possible right things for their group.
There are two questions that I’ve been relying on that both clarify a group leader’s next steps and capture the purpose of a group leader in an important way.
1. What do my group members need right now?
It’s not what ALL Christians need. It’s not what I think they should need. It’s not even what fancy blog authors say they need. It’s what the real people in front of me actually need, right now.
This question forces a leader into an intentionally curious posture, where they’re digging deeper into relationships so they can understand the real needs of their group members. It communicates care, it shows respect, and it demonstrates how valuable someone really is.
More than that, it clarifies a leader’s next step. An “endless-checklist Leader” will be rightfully forced into customizing and simplifying how they serve their people. An overwhelmed leader will be rightfully pushed toward tangible steps that serve their people practically.
This question sets up the second:
2. What can I (or we) do to help?
“Helping” should always be the lens through which we see leadership.
“What CAN I do” is important, because a group leader can’t follow Jesus for his/her group members. The weight of the world doesn’t rest on a leader’s shoulders, and sometimes we all need to be reminded of that.
Good leaders get stuff done. Great leaders invite others to get stuff done.
The “we” reminds our leaders that enabling group members to serve each other is not just a good idea – it’s the whole point of the body of Christ!
Here’s the secret behind these questions: they’re not just for group leaders. This framework applies to so many aspects of ministry. In a world full of strategies, groups models, ideas, jargon, and best practices; it can be impossible to hone in on what is just right for your specific ministry.
Using these questions can help us all realize that our ministry should always be contextualized. Always customized.
God called YOU to specific people.
A specific place.
A specific time.
And He will equip you to build the right systems that serve those specific people in the best way possible!