It’s now been about 18 months since I took over leading the House Group ministry at L’Islet Salvation Army and during that time I’ve learnt a lot, experienced a lot and read a lot. There’s plenty of content on the interweb all about making small group ministry successful, but I thought I’d share with you some of my own.
#1 – Be Prepared
It may sound a bit like the boy scouts, but your small group will soon lose their respect for you and the teaching if you don’t know your subject.
However you approach the subject choice make sure you are at least two steps ahead of the game when it comes to leading.
Whether you choose to follow a syllabus available from one of the great resource companies; whether you follow through a book of the bible; whether you study bible characters or deal with life questions, always have a direction in your teaching. It’s good to know where you’re going! Form your planned teaching around where you want to go, and people in your small group will feel they are gaining in their understanding.
Make sure you give it all to God during your planning. Allow time to seek God’s will for your group and you will usually find where the group needs to go.
#2 – Be Honest
Know that you are being relied on to answer questions and provide guidance. If you don’t know – say so. If you get it wrong – say so (and put it right!). Misleading either intentionally or unintentionally is unhelpful and can even be damaging. Your authority to lead will soon be lost if you fail to be honest in your leadership and teaching.
#3 – Be Relevant
Be aware of the lives of those in your small group. You need to teach to the people where they are now – not where you think they should be. It can be quite damaging to try and teach people who are out of their depth, or not spiritually mature enough to challenge some of the more complex questions of faith. Meet your people where they are, and walk with them on their journey.
#4 – Be Focussed – Stick to the Topic
Planning effectively and prayerfully can all be useless if you are not disciplined enough to stick to your plan. Be wary of individuals who regularly go off topic and deal with that appropriately.
#5 – Be Flexible
Perhaps contradicting number 4, but you need to be confident enough to go down a route which presents itself. People in your group may be grappling with all sorts of issues, and the Small Group will often be the forum to deal through these issues. Be discerning to ensure you devote time to genuine issues and don’t get taken off in a tangent. Be sensitive, ensuring that any issues which are better dealt with one-to-one are done in that way.
#6 – Be Inclusive
Some members of your group will be quieter than others – build in ways to integrate them into your discussions.
Everyone will need different things from the group, and be aware that they will need different things from you as a leader. Adjust your style and approach to meet those needs which can change week to week, or even from one minute to the next.
#7 – Be Passionate
If you are not, then question why you are in this leadership position. Regularly examine your passion for the role and the people, and be responsive to God’s call. Live your life with integrity, and be passionate in your faith. This doesn’t mean you always have to be in a good place, but it does mean that you should always want to be.