Being a small group leader is no easy task. In this video, Senior Vice President of Church Ministries at Lifeway, Michael Kelley shares three commitments that any leader can make to become a great small group leader and facilitate a great group.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
What makes a great small group leader? It’s a good question and if you’ve been in many small groups in your life you know that there are clearly some characteristics that make really good leaders and then some characteristics that make really bad leaders. It’s an important question for us to ask because, largely, the strength of a group and the Christian community that’s formed in there is really a lot about the leader that’s leading that group.
And you’ve probably had the experience of both ways where you have a bunch of people that don’t really have a lot in common and things start off slow, but because this leader is really committed to the group somehow the Lord takes it and gels everybody together and it becomes a really transformative kind of community experience.
Unfortunately you’ve probably had the opposite take place too where at some point you look down at your watch and then you don’t you just look at your watch, you look at the calendar and wonder, not just how long this meeting has to go, but how long this season of groups has to go.
So a lot depends on the leader. Now, what makes a great small group leader? There are a lot of things that you could say here. You could say that a great small group leader is naturally gifted at leadership skills or they’re naturally gifted at facilitating a conversation. All important. But let me give you three that might be sort of flying under the radar.
A COMMITMENT TO HOSPITALITY
So the first thing that I would say that makes a great small group leader is a commitment to hospitality. It’s a commitment to hospitality.
Hospitality was really, really important in the early church. As a matter of fact, without hospitality the gospel probably would not have spread in the way that it did because as people traveled from town to town the Christians would open up their homes and invite these people in and it would afford them greater chances to share the gospel, not only in that home, but also in the community. In the Bible, when you look at hospitality you see that it’s one of the characteristics that leaders in the church really need to embody. They must be hospitable people.
Unfortunately today hospitality is one of those things that sort of gets relegated to second place. It’s nice if someone is hospitable, but it’s not necessarily required. But hospitality is one of those things that makes a really great small group leader.
Think about it this way. The word “hospitality” is actually a combination of two words in the Greek. And the first word is translated as “love”. The second word is translated as “stranger”. So hospitality is literally, in a sense, the love of the stranger.
This is how hospitality firmly connects into the gospel because that’s what God has done for us. In a divine sense, in a divine display of hospitality, when we were strangers God opened up His life and ultimately His home to us. He let us in. So when we practice hospitality, we’re not just making a casserole or cleaning up the living room. When we practice hospitality we are actually mirroring the gospel. So a great small group leader ought to be committed to hospitality. Not just in the opening up of a room or a home, but of life, welcoming people in, strangers coming in. That’s the first thing.
A COMMITMENT TO THE TRUTH
The second thing that I would point out that makes a great small group leader is a commitment to the truth. It’s a commitment to the truth.
Perhaps you’ve had the experience of being part of a small group where it felt like at times it was very little about the Bible and very much about people’s opinions and personal exploration. Now, don’t get me wrong. A small group is a great chance for people to express their opinions and it’s a great chance for people to disclose things about themselves. But all of those things, all of that sharing and all of those opinions, all have to play second fiddle to the primacy of the Bible.
Because ultimately what matters is not what I think the Bible says or what you think the Bible says. What really matters is what does the Bible say? So a small group leader has to be committed to the truth that ultimately they are going to navigate all of that conversation to the point where they say, “This is the Word of God and this is what it said.”
A COMMITMENT TO CARE
And then here’s the third characteristic that makes a really great small group leader. It is a commitment to care. A commitment to care.
A great small group is not just about what happens inside of that hour or hour and 15 minutes. A really great small group is formed largely based on what happens outside of those times. So when you have a leader who is not just committed to making that moment really great, but committed to building relationships and praying and caring for people outside of that moment, connecting with them on a regular basis, and then helping them to connect with each other, it’s gonna make the group an incredibly transformative time as people really do start to share life and not just an hour with each other.
A commitment to hospitality, a commitment to the truth, and a commitment to care. Now notice, all three of these things might not be natural giftings. That’s why I call them commitments. Now that’s incredibly encouraging because what it means for me and what it means for you is that, whether you’re an introvert or whether you’re an extrovert, whether you are gifted to teach or whether you are gifted at administration, whatever it is you can make these commitments and actually serve the church in this way.
You can be a small group leader, you can facilitate a really great small group, when you are committed to hospitality, when you’re committed to the truth, and when you’re committed to care.