Reason #3 that Small Groups Don’t Work in America: Hiring Program Administrators
We hire program administrators to run the small group ministry instead of hiring shepherds who will do the mundane, repetitive work of caring for sheep. Effective small group pastors possess strengths that allow them to focus their energies on caring for people, developing leaders and gathering people around a vision.
I’m not sure that this is something that comes that easily for those of us who have been in church leadership for any length of time. Our traditional church structures have depended upon those who are good orators and those who are good program administrators. It does not take long to see this when we assess the average M.Div. program. And look at the most popular books that target pastors. The bestsellers speak to the issue of vision development skills, leadership aptitude and communication skills.
I hope that I am wrong, but my observations have caused me to conclude that we under-value those who are gifted as shepherds, those who take joy in coming alongside groups, mentoring leaders and dealing with difficult pastoral situations. Instead we hire program administrators who know how to track growth, run budgets, organize curriculum, manage the small group calendar and read reports. They know how to run the small group program but they don’t have the strength set that focuses on investing in group life, developing new leaders, sharing life with multiple groups in an area, dealing with group conflict and eating meals with people under their care.