11 Characteristics of the Greatest Small Group Leaders

Rick Howerton has had the opportunity to work with the best small group pastors around. These are key characteristics that are true of all of them.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to spend meaningful time with some of those most of us would consider the greatest small group pastors. People like Steve Gladen (Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA), Bill Donahue (Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL), Bill Willits (North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, GA), Eddie Mosley (Life Point Church, Smyrna, TN), Bill Search (formerly at Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY) and others. I’ve listed those you may know due to the small group books they’ve written but there are many others who could’ve easily made this list.

Based on my time with them, there are some characteristics that seem to be true of all of them. Maybe this list will aid you as you consider your needed areas of personal growth.

Each of these small group pastors…

1. Believe the church is the hope of the world and that small groups play the primary role in the church becoming all she can and should be.

2. Truly love people and long to create an environment in every small group where people are loved, cared for, and nurtured spiritually.

3. Have studied leadership principles and practices and live them out as they lead their ministries.

4. Are strategic thinkers creating workable strategies with specific goals in mind.

5. Lead with such passion and integrity that followers follow them.

6. Long to and do mentor future leaders in the small group movement.

7. Are team oriented, overseeing teams of people that aid them in accomplishing the ministry they do. There are no lone rangers here.

8. Read about and consistently talk about trends in small group ministry so that they don’t fall behind in their approach.

9. Are willing to and do learn from those who are younger than themselves.

10. Are about the church whole, are gifted teachers, and could, if they wanted to, be very effective senior pastors.

11. Have a great respect for and humbly follow the leading of their senior pastor.   

Rick Howerton Rick has one passion… To see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is presently pursuing this passion as the Small Group and Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Church Resources. Rick has authored or co-authored multiple books, studies, and leader training resources including A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, The Gospel and the Truth: Living the Message of Jesus, Small Group Life Ministry Manual: A New Approach to Small Groups, Redeeming the Tears: a Journey Through Grief and Loss, Small Group Life: Kingdom, Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, and Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study, Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making. Rick’s varied ministry experiences as an collegiate minister, small group pastor, teaching pastor, elder, full-time trainer and church consultant, as well as having been a successful church planter gives him a perspective of church life that is all-encompassing and multi-dimensional. Rick is a highly sought after communicator and trainer.

More from Rick Howerton or visit Rick at https://rickhowerton.wordpress.com

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