Putting the right people in the right seats can be one of the most daunting responsibilities you have as you develop and build your small group ministry teams. Following these guidelines will help ensure that you "make the grade" when recruiting and assigning these all-important ministry positions.
Accessibility--Is your potential small group leader a "people person?" Because the group is small, by definition, bonds will form between members, and this should already be one of the goals of your small group ministry. Much of the behind-the-scenes effort will focus on interpersonal relationships; therefore, the ability to interact with folks who possess different personality styles should be highly considered.
Availability--Does he or she have the time? This may seem obvious, but it's important to realistically assess the commitment needed up front. Talk about things like preparation time, relationship development, and ability to respond to group members' e-mails and phone calls. Make sure you've provided a complete--but not overly detailed--picture of your expectations for your leaders before they accept the position. Anything less sets them up for possible failure or frustration in their experiences to come.
Adaptability--Do they have the ability to change direction or ministry focus? A good leader needs to be able to discern the effectiveness of the experiences they're helping to provide and be willing to change gears as needed. This implies that this person is also seeking to grow on a personal basis and is willing to be flexible and admit when something needs to change. Also, develop a strong rapport and connection with your leaders, as they very well may need your mentoring support on an ongoing basis, especially in the beginning.
Accountability--Does this person possess a strong moral compass and demonstrate the traits of integrity and wisdom that a small group leader needs? Again, since relationships will be the cornerstone of your small group ministry, it's imperative that your leader displays the highest levels of confidentiality and is willing to keep growing in spiritual maturity. Group members will be sharing personal and intimate details of their life experiences, and discussions may reveal deep and perhaps previously undisclosed raw wounds. Knowing that your leader takes this responsibility seriously is a must.
Ability--It's not necessary for your potential leader to possess years of ministry experience or a theology degree. (An overdependence on head knowledge or one "expert" can be a hindrance to a healthy small group, in fact.) However, it's important that your leader has a strong spiritual foundation. Let your potential leader share their prior experiences they've had with you and how those experiences have prepared them to take on this role. The last thing you want to do is position someone in a way that makes him or her feel inadequate or ineffective. You may find that this person fits into a different ministry role more effectively after having these fact-finding conversations.
Activity--Do you feel this person will take the necessary steps to find the best possible resources and ministry opportunities for group members? Although this person may have a passion for teaching and ministering, it may also be an important responsibility to research, assess, and evaluate various ministry opportunities available. In addition, your leader will need to share about these resources and opportunities with the group.
When you take the time to hold yourself accountable to these initiatives as you recruit, you'll be well on your way to establishing a small group experience that will be a beneficial, meaningful, A+ experience for everyone.
Sophia Winter has more than 10 years leadership experience focused on building teams and sharing her passion for effective communication skills. She serves as Advertising Director for Group Publishing and is a frequent contributor to Children's Ministry Magazine and CM Professional Edition Newsletter. Learn more from her and other small group leaders at www.SmallGroupMinistry.com.
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