Our church plant has seen her share of disasters. But no matter how big the church, small group leaders can “be the church” better than any people I know.

 I was driving home after a day’s work… My cell phone rang… I answered.., “Hello, Rick Howerton.” She spoke… “Hi Pastor, I’m on my way home from work. I just got a call from my daughter, she came home from school and found her dad…. She thinks he’s dead.” Her broken tones evolved into uncontrollable wailing. “I’ll be right there” I told her. I called her small group leader immediately. He and his wife beat me to the house. Husband’s gone, no hope for resuscitation. Tragedy, but astoundingly effective small group leaders carried the day and are still doing so months later.

 A quick follow-up story…  When our church gathered yesterday I had a conversation with the small group leader, the one who “beat me to the house.” He concreted in my heart of hearts that he is one of the thousands of heroes in the small group community, the small group leader. It seems that the young girl who found her dad lifeless on that disastrous afternoon was going to be forced to be without a father on “Dad’s Day” at her elementary school. All the other kids would have a dad to eat lunch with them but she would be alone. When the small group leader heard about her situation he made a decision. He would take off work and be her dad for the day. He did just that. He told me that, as he turned the corner to go her room he saw her beautiful eyes. She was peeking around the door frame anticipating his arrival.

 You know… We often talk about kids who can’t understand or embrace the love of God the Father because they were without a loving father in the home they grew up in. While the small group leader will never be able to replace this young lady’s dad, he is most certainly teaching her about the love of God her ultimate Father.

 Small group leaders… You are my heroes!!!

If you’ve got a story about a small group leader that has made a difference in your life or someone else’s I’d love to hear it. Please use the comment box to tell us about a small group leader who is your hero.

 For more information on small groups and church planting join me at Exponential Conference in April.