Getting Small Group Members to Become Small Group Leaders

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by Rick Howerton (

Small Group leader… One of the greatest gifts you can give your small group ministry is another small group leader. As we lead our groups we should keep our leader recruitment radar up at all times being alert to who shows leadership potential. When we realize someone is leader material we would be wise to move that individual toward a small group leader role. But how do we go about doing that?

First… Know how to spot a leader. If the answer to most of the questions below is yes, you may have a found a future small group leader.:

1.  During the group meeting, when they speak do the rest of the group members stop and listen intently?
2.  When the group is making decisions together are they looking out for themselves or the group as a whole?
3.  Do they instinctively go to Scripture when the group is seeking wisdom concerning someone’s life issue, a moral question, or understanding about God and His nature?
4.  Do they respect the church leadership? That is, are they willing to fall under the authority of those who govern the church body?
5.  Are they inclined to do everything themselves or do they see the gifts, abilities, and potential in others and long for them to do their part?
6.  Do you see in them a person of prayer, someone depending on God to accomplish more than they could do themselves?

Once we’ve concluded someone is leader material we need to…

Step 1… Begin to proactively connect with that individual outside of the group meeting. The goal is simply to build a deeper relationship with the individual. There are four locations these connections can take place. From the top of the list to the bottom, each is a bit more intimate.

  • Conversational (hallway)
  • Around the table (restaurant)
  • Recreational (shopping, games n sports)
  • Familial (at your home)

Step 2… Verbally, let them know that you respect them, that you are grateful for them, and that you see potential in them. And yes, I suggest this happen even before you speak to them of being a leader. Oftentimes people are affirmed only when someone wants something of them. This wreaks of insincerity and isn’t nearly as heart transforming as affirmation that is voiced simply because someone is worthy of it. Obviously step 2 can take place during any conversation taking place in step 1.

Step 3… The Big Ask. Asking someone to consider leadership in the right way is vital. Make an appointment with the future leader, just the two of you. During the discussion you will want to be certain that you complete the following sentences. The individual you’re meeting with and your church’s approach to small group ministry will determine how each of these sentences ends.

I’ve been praying and…
I see in you… (gifts, abilities, influence)
I want you to join me in… (vision)
It will demand… (expectations and responsibilities)
If you will I will… (equipping)
I’ll check back with you in…

Step 4… Get a Commitment. On the agreed upon date (the answer to the “I’ll check back with you” question in the list above) either call the possible leader or meet with them. If they are willing, accept a commitment. If they need more time to think about it, give it to them. If they turn you down, thank them and continue to love and nurture them just as you were doing when she/he were just another group member.

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