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If you want thriving small group ministry, you need to set up your small group leaders to succeed.

As a leader of small group leaders, you need to understand… Group Leaders want to win.  

If they have signed to spend time with your students, gone through the process to become a leader, and have committed to be consistent, then they are not  looking to fail. If you have established groups in your ministry or are looking to start a great small groups plan soon, here are some ways you can ensure that your Small Group Leaders are set-up for success.

1. Clarify Their Role.

Clarity around what a successful group looks like is imperative for helping them win with students.  If you have recruited without being crystal clear of what the ideal is, then you can never expect a group leader to rise to it.  One of the best things you can do as a leader of small group leaders is to sit down and clearly lay out what the perfect leader would look like.  From there, craft some memorable handles (statements) that your group leaders can have to help guide their decision making as a group leader.

At North Point Transit, we have what we call The Five Essentials.  These are five guiding “essentials” that help our leaders know and understand what a great group leader looks like.  These work for us, but take the time to figure out what works best in your environment.

Action Step: Ask yourself, “Where do I feel like our small group leaders aren’t meeting my expectation?”  From there, you have a solid launching pad to discover where their role needs to be clarified because often times when expectations aren’t met, there is a lack of clarity.

2. Make Them The Priority, Really.

Often times, I hear student pastors talk about how much they value small groups, but they can’t figure out why their’s are not taking off.  

Most of the time, as I dig a little deeper, it becomes obvious that the reason their groups aren’t where they should be is because they have not been prioritized.  Competing systems and programming, a lack of funding, and a lack of consistency in their vision, create an environment where group leaders cannot flourish.  As a leader of small group leaders, ensure that your small groups are the priority.  

Give groups the proper funding it needs, a clear vision, and eliminate or reposition any system or program that hinders the quality of your small groups.

Action Step: Run all your programming through the filter of this question.  ”Does this system/program enhance or erode the quality of our small groups.”

3. Give Them Great Questions.

Small Group Leaders want to have great conversations, but they don’t always have time to think of great questions on their own.  On top of that, during a small group, it can be very intimating to a lot of group leaders to try and come up with questions on the spot.  As a leader of small group leaders, take the time to craft and distribute great questions.  This will take away a lot of the anxiety that comes along with leading a group.

Action Step: One of my friends, Britt Kitchen, recently gave me some good insight on creating great group questions.  As you develop your questions for this Sunday, here are a few pointers…

Students like to complain and are united in common frustrations. Allow students adequate time to talk about situations that frustrate them about the topic you’re discussing.

Don’t Miss The Low-Hanging Fruit. When you get to the Bible passage it’s often helpful to define words, ask the seemingly “simple” questions, and clarify characters in the story. Don’t let your seminary degree push you to ask questions they aren’t ready for.

Challenge them to take one simple step for the up-coming week. If you are expecting students to apply 3 or 5 things, you’re going to set students up for failure. For example, if you’re talking about spending time with God and ask students to read their Bible 5 times, pray everyday, and journal about everything they are learning, it is likely a student will be overwhelmed and not do any of it. Give them one step to take.

Patrick Holden Patrick Holden has served in student ministry for the past 7 years in both high school and middle school ministry contexts.  He is currently working at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA.  Prior to serving at North Point, Patrick went to Lee University to pursue a Bachelors Degree in Discipleship Ministries.  Patrick frequently speaks to student ministries and church leaders and blogs on the topics of leadership, communication, and creativity at http://www.patrickholdenonline.com/

More from Patrick Holden or visit Patrick at http://patrickholdenonline.com/

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