If the masses are going to be part of your small group ministry the Senior Pastor is vital. There are some critical things the Senior Pastor can do for the ministry that no one else can. A few of those are:




  • Cast vision for the small group ministry (at least every thirty days) from the pulpit.
  • At every opportunity remind decision-making church leaders (elders, deacons, finance team, trustees, etc…) how important this ministry is to the church.
  • Tell stories of lives changed through the small group via video, testimonies, or as sermon illustrations.
  • Encourage church members to join a small group.
  • Come to small group events and training opportunities, stay for a few minutes, and thank the leaders for all they are doing and tell how much it means to the accomplishment of the church’s mission.
  • Be a sounding board and friend to the person spearheading the small group ministry.
  • Make small groups one of the expectations of church membership.
  • If necessary, let the church know of the need for small group leaders and apprentices and who to talk to to become a leader or apprentice.
  • Go to bat during the budgeting process asking for money for the training of leaders, the nurture of leaders, and the resources leaders need.
  • Be in a group (or lead one) and talk about it.





Our small group is taking a break this summer. I’m spending some time re-reading some books that have greatly affected my own small group leadership. This week I am diving headlong into a book every small group pastor/leader should read, Biblical Foundations for Small Group Ministry by Gareth Weldon Icenogle. I came upon the following paragraph. I’m using these 161 words to evaluate my own small group leadership. I came up lacking but now know some areas that need serious attention.

 “Small group leadership is about becoming the whole person God wants each person to be. It is about becoming vulnerable to help others become more open, to help others change for the better, to hold others in the group accountable to improve their lives and lifestyles. Small group leadership is about the freedom to show emotion and share feelings; it is about drawing close to others in the group. Small group leadership is about developing and nurturing the freedom to see, touch and embrace. Small group leadership is about helping the group resolve their conflicts. It is about calling the group back into covenant relationship with God. Small group leadership is about building a stronger sense of family in the midst of broken relationships. It is about giving up control and about giving away resources. Small group leadership is about creating a home for others, empowering others to live their own lives, and equipping them to go away and help others.”

There are certain tools an artist uses when painting a masterpiece. We recognize the tools that we can see when visiting the artists’ workshop. There’s the easel, the brushes, the canvas, the sketching tools and erasers. These are all tools that we can see and grab hold of. But there are even more important tools utilized when painting a work of art. They cannot be seen or held as they are captured in the mind and heart of the artist. Some of these include colors, shapes, lines and balance. These tools are much more important than the ones that can be seen and held.


In small group life there are lots of tools we use that we can hold in our hands… curriculum, chairs to sit on, candles and a CD player to create the right mood, and of course food. But even if you have all of these in the right place utilized at the right time if you do not become an expert in the unseen art of listening you will never guide your group members to become the masterpieces God intended them to be.


In the amazing new book, Finding the Flow by Tara Miller and Jenn Peppers, they point out that there are three levels of listening, Me, You, and Us.:


Me – “The focus is completely on the self. It’s all about me. How is what I am hearing affecting me? What am I going to say next? What do I think the speaker is about to say? How do I feel about this topic? What are my emotions? How will I defend my opinion? As you can probably guess, this level of listening is the least helpful in a small group setting, as it is the most self-centered. Small group leaders who get stuck here are in performance mode. It’s easy to get stuck here when we are focused on wondering what others think of us…”


You – “The focus or spotlight is completely on the speaker. It’s all about you, the person I am listening to. The skills of a good listener are being utilized. The information is being received clearly. The listener is engaged with the speaker and the facts of the story, figuratively alongside the person, empathizing with what they are saying. Level You listening is what most people equate with good listening.”


Us – “The third level involves and transcends the first two levels. It encompasses more than the people and the facts – it involves an awareness of the underlying dynamics: the actions and reactions, the general vibe, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the space or undercurrent in the room. Rather than focusing the spotlight on one person in the group, it illuminates something more global that’s happening in all of us, in the combination of us – everything that can be seen, felt, heard, and tasted and smelled in the room.”


Obviously, we need to become Us listeners.


It takes knowledge, and practice to become an artist. And someone must tell us what we need to know and how we need to practice if we’re going to be a successful artist. The same is true of being an Us listener.


I suggest you pick up a copy of Finding the Flow as quickly as you can. It will tell you what you need to know and what to practice concerning listening as well as a plethora of other skills that are necessities for successful small group leaders.


In case you’re wondering… Yes, I used the blogspot today to pimp this book. It’s one of the best I’ve seen in a long, long, long time!



A small-group leader has three ways to get work done:

  1. Do it by yourself.
  2. Boss everyone else around.
  3. Work in team.

    Working as a team means getting the best from every team member. You get their minds, their bodies, and their hearts. They are passionate because they have been given ownership. As their input is given, received, and utilized, even the most backward person begins to feel good about themselves and the group. My problem has always been trying to do “it” all by myself. Although my intentions, at least I think, have been honorable, I have realized that this approach cheats members from being a part of something bigger. (And, I’ve concluded, it’ll flat wear you out.) The magic word for small groups here is “invitation.” Good leaders extend the invitation that God has given us to join Him in His redemptive mission.