Friday, September 9, 2011

Reason #6 that Small Groups Don't Work in America

The Senior Pastor Does not Possess the Vision for Small Group Life

I've taken a break from this series due to our relocation, but there is so much more to say. If you want to view the first five entries in this series click here.

Notice the wording I used above. I did not say "vision for small groups" because I've found that senior pastors commonly carry the vision for small groups and promote their benefits. I said that the senior pastor does not possess the vision for "small group life." Between the two is a huge gulf.

A lead pastor can possess a vision for groups and even promote the small group program. That's better than nothing I guess. But if the vision never goes beyond that, then groups will never be anything more than a program. And people don't need more programs.

A vision for small group life is not something a person gets. Actually the vision gets them. It gets inside them in such a way that they are compelled to lead people into the vision. They long to see people connected in community and mobilized for mission. They want much more than a bunch of people in small groups or a small group structure that will close the "back door." They are driven by the hope that their sheep can be discipled by the Spirit as they connect as God's people in groups.

Let's briefly look at a few marks of lead pastors who are compelled by this vision:

1. They are the vision carriers and champions of small groups. Most likely they are not the primary point persons of the small group ministry. But they promote it more than anyone else.
2. They participate in group life and they speak from their experience.
3. They understand the strategy of the group life team. They participate in that team at appropriate times so that they are doing more than just serving as the promoter.
4. They lead relationally. They are involved in the lives of the leaders with whom they directly work. They know them beyond their jobs and minister to them as a shepherd.
5. They receive ministry themselves. They are not trying to be perfect, but they are in relationship with others who sow into their lives.
6. They work with other leaders as a team. They have shed the expectation that they have to be the super-star leader who has all the gifts. Instead they have found leaders who have other strengths and gifts that compliment theirs. In this setting, they have learned to defer to others who have insight and gifting in areas that they do not.

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