Group Talk…Dealing with Discouragement

We all face discouragement from time to time.  And it comes in many forms from numerous angles in our lives and ministry.  The July GroupTalk will help each of us take a “check-up from the neck up” concerning discouragement.

Freedom from discouragement may be an elusive thing, but the feelings and emotions associated can be dealt with in real and tangible ways.  Ed Applegate, Pacific Regional Leader for the Small Group Network and Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Crossroads Grace Community Church in Manteca, CA, will be our guest.  Ed is described as “seriously smiley”.  Though he is almost always upbeat and… well… smiley, he, like so many of us, faces discouragement on a regular basis.

Ed will share with us his personal experiences facing discouragement and will share his multi-point strategy for combating and dealing with discouragement. 

This GroupTalk is specifically designed to bless you, the Small Group Ministry Leader.  We know that discouragement is a real issue for each of us in this ministry. Together we can fight this onslaught of the enemy and can stand victorious together.  This is truly a time when we are “Better Together”.  Don’t stand alone on this destructive issue.  Let’s walk together as we deal with discouragement.

Please join us for this free one hour conference call.  Simply dial into the new conference number, enter the access code and enjoy the discussion.  If possible, please avoid internet based phone services.

If you miss the live call, no worries, all GroupTalk calls are recorded and available for you at

And you can participate… We would love to address your specific questions, so please, email your questions to me in advance or during the call at

Conference Call Details:

Date: Thursday July 19th

Time:  1:00 PM (ET); 12 Noon (CT); 11:00 AM (MT); 10:00 AM (PT)

Dial-in-number:  1-626-677-3000 NEW NUMBER

Participant Access Code:  24247

Jay Daniell is the host of Group Talk. You can email your questions in for the next Group Talk to Jay at

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Summer reading

Well, it’s summer again. Which means planning, preparing, and, hopefully, slowing down to read a bit.

image credit: CreationSwap user

Undoubtedly, you have plenty on your list to read. But in case you’re looking for some new small group-related summer reading material, we’ve got you covered. There have been some great groups-related books that have been released this year…ones that are worth your time.

Summer Small Group Reading List

Leading Small Groups with Purpose, by Steve Gladen

Steve Gladen, pastor of small groups at Saddleback Church for more than a decade, takes you step-by-step toward a healthy, dynamic group with focus and purpose. For the new small group leader, the seasoned leader who feels their small group lacks purpose, or the leader who is itching to move their small group to the next level, Leading Small Groups with Purpose is the road map to follow.

Every chapter includes ideas that you can implement immediately, as well as ways to shape your small group over time. With Gladen’s expert help, you will define success clearly, develop a personal leadership plan, invite members into your group, and help members fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, by Rick Howerton

Many churches still take a modern approach to small-group ministry, but the truth is we now live in a post-Christian world. Society’s definitions for family, spirituality, and even truth are different than they were ten years ago.

In A Different Kind of Tribe, small-groups expert Rick Howerton explains what has changed, offers a new approach to small-group life, and equips you to succeed.

Field Guide for Small Group Leaders: Setting the Tone, Accommodating Learning Styles, & More, by Sam O’Neal

There are countless helpful resources available to the small group leader. As managing editor of, Sam O’Neal has seen the best of them come and go. They tend to deal with the big visionof small groups–how they can revolutionize your church and transform your congregation. Or they consider the big idea of small group ministry, how it reflects God’s communal vision for us. But sometimes a small group leader just wants to know how to survive the next meeting–not how to instruct and correct or shock and awe, but simply how to set the table for a life-changing encounter with God. The Field Guide for Small Group Leaders focuses in on the small group gathering as spiritual event. Useful to newly minted leaders and as a ready resource for small group experts, this go-to guide helps leaders prepare themselves to prepare their groups for the adventure of a collective encounter with a great God.

Transformational Discipleship: How People really Grow, by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley, & Phillip Nation

A Christian’s desire to grow in faith is beautiful and biblical, best illustrated in Jeremiah 17 where Scripture describes “The man who trusts in the LORD” as being “like a tree planted by water . . . It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.”

But how do people really grow? Transformational Discipleship describes the process that brings to life that kind of person described in the Bible. There’s no magic formula or mantra to recite here, but rather a substantive measure of research with churches and individuals who have wholeheartedly answered the call of Jesus to make disciples.

Small Group Vital Signs, by Mike Mack

Healthy small groups grow and reproduce themselves. But how do you know if your group is healthy, and how do you gauge the vitality? 

In this new release, Michael Mack shares the 7 “vital signs” of a healthy small group and how your group can become healthier in each area. This book includes tools to diagnose the health of your group, but even more importantly, it provides biblical cures for what ails many groups — perhaps yours!

Gospel-Centered Discipleship, by Jonathan Dodson

Everyone’s idea of discipleship is different. Some people emphasize evangelism—sharing their faith. Still others promote a hierarchical system for spiritual growth, a way for older Christians to pass on best practices to younger believers. Yet, both ideas are incomplete. Real discipleship is so much more.

Avoiding extremes and evaluating motives, Jonathan Dodson insists on a way of following Jesus that re-centers discipleship on the gospel.

So…what are you reading this summer?

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Relational Transparency, Small Groups, & Freedom

Small Groups can create a place of healing for people to find freedom.

Jesus’ ministry started with healing in mind. Remember how He read from the scroll of Isaiah in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners…and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (NIV)

Jesus’ ministry was a healing ministry of bringing good news to the poor, freedom to the imprisoned and oppressed, and recovery of site to the blind. His ministry continues today through Small Groups.

The Starting Place of People

Do you know if the people in your Small Group are struggling with relational distrust, loneliness, brokenness, insecurity or shame? What about addiction, abuse, adultery, sexual attraction, anger, or others? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then you probably don’t have relational transparency in your group and the opportunity for healing and freedom doesn’t exist.

The Brew Crew

When I was in high school, my favorite community to hang out with was the Brew Crew. The Brew Crew got together on the weekends getting hammered drunk and doing drugs. For us a 4.0 in school was not our grade point average…it was our blood alcohol level!

We were all totally out of control. Three of my best friends were in rehab for chemical and alcohol abuse. Eventually I recognized that the pain I was causing myself, and others around me, was far outweighing the pleasure I was receiving from partying.

Scared of My First Small Group

Interestingly, at the same time I was in the Brew Crew I got involved in a Small Group. Some friends of mine invited me to attend a large weekly gathering of Christ followers that met during the week. It was a big group of about 100 or so kids. The ministry leaders of this big group would perform skits, sing songs, talk about the Bible, etc. In this crowd of kids, I heard about a Small Group and decided to try one with several of my buddies.

I was reluctant about the group at first because I didn’t grow up in a Christian family. I didn’t have a biblical frame of reference for life. I didn’t know anything about spiritual practices, how to find a Bible verse, or what to say in a prayer. I was insecure about the expectations of needing to know about these things.

Scott, a young professional, was my Small Group leader. He created a safe place for everyone to be real about their lives. I felt like I could be authentic about who I was. I was open about the parties I went to and the craziness of my lifestyle. I never felt judged or confronted by anyone there. Scott helped me feel like my presence in the group was really important. It was through the relationships in this Small Group, and with Scott, that after three years led me to put my faith in Jesus and start actively following him.

Creating Small Group Space for God to Work

Did you hear the power of a Small Group community and what God can do when space is created for transparent relationships? Jesus was the master at creating the right space for messy people. Jesus went to the party at Matthew’s House in Matthew Ch. 9:9-12, where the sinners were partying – the Brew Crew. Jesus is comfortable with the chaos of people’s lives.

Leading a Small Group Ministry in the local church for five years, I have discovered that creating transparent community where people are authentic and vulnerable with their life story is the kind of group culture where healing and freedom takes place.

Training Leaders in Creating Transparent Community

Here are some intentional concepts we train our Small Group leaders in for creating groups that have relational transparency.

1. Authenticity Starts With You

Don’t be fake. Fake people are like wax fruit. Wax leaves a bad taste in people’s mouth. So do wax people. Don’t try to manage your image as a person who has it all together as the leader because you think that is what the leader is supposed to do. Be authentic as a fellow struggler.

2. Be Vulnerable First

Set the pace for the group by exposing your weaknesses first. The reason people pretend or hide from others is usually because of shame or pride. These are both extremely dark and powerful emotions. They keep people stuck from experiencing the freedom Christ came to give us. You can lead them to overcoming this by being vulnerable as the leader. Share your stories of struggle. I know you think you will lose respect by sharing your struggles but trust me, you will gain greater respect and admiration through vulnerability. Let the promise of James 5:16 be true in your group, “Confess your sins to one another so that you may be healed.” (NIV) Let this verse be an accessible practice in your group. Here are a couple of examples of what you might share vulnerably: your addictions – alcohol, sexual, or food related; your childhood in a broken home which might have left you feeling unlovable or rejected. The key to this principle is exposing some of the mess of your own life to the rest of the group first.

3. Expect Messy People

We live in a relationally broken world. Divorce, abuse, and abandonment shatter relational dreams and cripple our ability to relate in healthy ways with one another. Here are some of the realities from eight couples in my Small Group right now:

1. 10 Divorces (4 from one guy).

2. 4 Sexually abused, one by a football coach when he was 8 yrs. old. This same man molested three other boys who all committed suicide later in life.

3. 4 are in recovery for addictions.

4. 3 have had abortions.

5. 1 guy was previously involved in four different cults.

Don’t be surprised by pain in people’s lives. We live in a messy, pain filled world. Embrace creating a culture where people can share the stories of their lives, where they can be fully known, accepted and loved. If people in your group are always answering the question of how they are doing with, “Doing great!” or “Couldn’t be better!”, repeat principles one and two because they’re probably lying to you on some level.

4. Have a Process View of Growth.

Spiritual growth takes time. Transformation of the heart that results in healing and new behavior is the goal, and you can’t rush or microwave this process. As a Small Group Leader you can never cause spiritual growth in a person. Only God can do this. Look at 1 Corinthians 3:5-7: “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (NIV) It took me being in a Small Group three years before I even said ‘yes’ to following Jesus. Is three years too long? Should someone have given up on me sooner? Take the pressure off of yourself that you are responsible for people’s growth. It’s not up to you. You are just creating a relational culture for God to work. As you are waiting and looking for growth in people, be sure to celebrate it when you see it. Point it out to them. Affirm where you see God at work.

5. It’s Not Always ‘What You Know’ but ‘How You Love’

One of the greatest fears of a new Small Group leader is the fear of not knowing an answer to a question or how to handle a situation that might come up in their group. Love is going to trump right answers. A leader of love that seeks to serve others in the group will be more important than any of the content you share with them, especially early on in the life of a group. If you don’t know an answer to a question about the Bible – just say “I don’t know the answer to that. It’s a good question.” If someone is asking for advice and you don’t know what to say, just tell him or her, “I don’t know…but I am committed to trying to help you.” I believe content is very important, but as a new group leader you will often feel inadequate. Love will lead a group to good places. I couldn’t tell you a single thing that I learned in my first Small Group, but I remember the love I was given. As a group gets to know one another deeply, it will be easier to speak truth into each other’s lives from a place of love.

Practical Questions for Becoming More Transparent

Lets get practical. The following questions are good at moving a group towards relational transparency. Give people a blank piece of paper and two colors of sticky notes. Have them write on one color of sticky note their highlights and on the other color their lowlights. Then have them put these in the sequential order of their lives. Give each person 20 minutes to tell the group these life stories by answering these three questions:

1. What are three highlights in your life?

2. What are three lowlights in your life?

3. How would you describe your relationship with God in these times?

Remember, the leader of the Small Group should answer these questions first and model the level of transparency they hope to achieve in the group. It took my group about two months to finish this exercise. Here is the feedback we all shared after going through this with one another:

o Got past the illusion of knowing each other.

o Finally became vulnerable, broken or emotionally down with one another.

o Experienced relational attachments to one another’s brokenness.

o Established emotional connections at a heart level with people’s pain.

o Raised the level of trust in the group.

o Learned our life story again – areas that were previously blocked out.

o Changed perception of others as we started to see them in a new light.

Healing and Freedom in Your Small Group

As my Small Group experienced love, acceptance and grace for one another through this exercise we also experienced it with God. Remember I started this article with Jesus reading from the scroll in Isaiah. He could have read one more sentence farther in the book of Isaiah but he didn’t. He could have read the sentence that says, “to proclaim the day of vengeance for our God” in Isaiah 61:2, but he didn’t. Jesus proclaimed he was starting a ministry of healing and freedom, not condemnation. Being transparent is about giving and receiving grace.

I hope you are able to see and understand the value of leading a Small Group with relational transparency. Being intentional with these principles will create a culture where God heals people and we can all experience greater freedom to be the people He intended us to be.

Kirby Holmes is the Groups and Growth Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, Texas. You can follow Kirby on Twitter or Facebook. He also blogs.

Posted in Motivational, Replenish Your Soul | Leave a comment

7 ways small groups can reach people for Jesus

“Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. When they couldn’t find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. Impressed by their bold belief, he said, ‘Friend, I forgive your sins.’” (Luke 5:18-20, Msg)

Do you remember the story of the paralytic in Luke 5 — where four men broke through the roof of a synagogue to lower their friend to Jesus? Sometimes it takes something that radical to lead someone to Jesus!

And sometimes it just takes the caring, consistent love of a small group of Christians:

1. Your small group can care about people who don’t know Jesus
The reason God used the four friends in Luke 5 is because they cared for the paralytic. Just like those four, your life mission has to start with love. The number one reason Christians don’t share Christ with others is that they are too preoccupied with themselves.

Before you can care about others, you must become aware of them. Once you become aware of them, start praying for them. Pray for three things:

  • an opportunity to share your faith in a non-threatening way
  • for God to soften their hearts
  • for God to soften your heart.

2. Your small group must believe God can reach the person
No one is hopeless. When the four friends looked at the paralytic’s condition, they could have responded in doubt: What could Jesus do? Instead, they believed God could heal him — they had faith. The Bible said the paralytic’s sins were forgiven when Jesus saw the faith of the four friends.

There are people paralyzed in our world, who aren’t necessarily physically paralyzed, but who have a paralyzed faith. Whether they’re paralyzed by doubts, loneliness, fear or anything else, the result is the same — they need the faith of the others.

In a sense, they don’t have enough faith to believe, so your faith is going to have to bring them to Jesus.

3. Your small group must make a plan
Although faith and prayer are important ingredients to bringing others to Jesus, you need to do something too! You need a plan. When the four friends saw the way to Jesus was blocked, they came up with a plan to get the paraplegic to Jesus. Your small group needs a plan to bring people to Jesus. Without it, you’ll never bring anyone to the Savior.

4. Your small group must overcome difficulties
When the four friends saw the path to Jesus blocked, they had every reason to feel discouraged, but they didn’t give up. They looked for another way to bring the man to Jesus.

Everybody gets discouraged at times. But in order to share Jesus with our friends, we must persist through those difficulties. I remember a small group at Saddleback who prayed for a lost friend for two years before that person made a commitment to Jesus. I’m sure that guy is glad that they didn’t give up after a year and a half.

5. Your small group needs the courage to do something different
When faced with a discouraging situation, these four friends decided to do something different to get their friend to Jesus — they went through the roof! Sometimes we have to do something different to get people to Jesus as well.

Although you might not crawl through a roof to get someone to Jesus, you might host a party. For a small group in a San Diego church that meant buying season tickets to see professional football games. Besides buying their own tickets, the couples bought one extra ticket — for someone who didn’t know Jesus. That group brought 13 couples to Christ through that experience.

6. Your small group must work together to get the job done
Have you ever tried to carry someone on a stretcher with only three people? It doesn’t work. If all four of the friends hadn’t helped, the paralytic would have fallen off the stretcher.

Some people will only come to Jesus through a group effort. Studies have shown that people come to Christ faster when they come through a supportive environment!

That’s why small groups are so essential in bringing people to Christ.

When you talk to someone at work and it’s just you and that person, you’re the only witness. If you’re able to bring them to a group event — particularly one that is fun — they’ll go, “Wow, these people aren’t goofy. They aren’t religious nuts. They’re normal people.”

7. Your small group must be willing to pay the cost to bring someone to Jesus
These four men wouldn’t have made a hole in the roof unless they were willing to fix it. They had to pay the cost of bringing their friend to Jesus.

Bringing a friend to Jesus always requires sacrifice. For many small groups that means sacrificing their own comfort within the group. Many people have become so comfortable within their small groups that they are afraid of adding new people and messing up the group dynamics.

Before our friends will come to Jesus, they need to see us get out of our comfort zones.

Posted in Leadership Lifters by Rick Warren, Motivational | Leave a comment

The “easy” prison guards of our soul & small group ministry


As I write article I am sitting in a Starbuck’s at 7 a.m., which in itself doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary. Factor in now that I am not a morning person, it is my day off, I was up late, and being here is not my choice…I am a prisoner!

To what?

image credit: CreationSwap user Matt Gruber

My daughter’s schedule. As an incoming freshman she tried out for “cheer” at her High School. She made the squad! We were so happy…but reality was just beginning to set in. Like so many parents who have High Schoolers involved in team sports and school activities, you become a prisoner to the schedule they need to keep. My freedom to choose has been taken away.

Taken for granted

When we talk about freedom, what do you think? To be honest, for so many of us we probably never think about it too much because freedom is always around us. To most of us, unless we are in prison or in an addictive behavior that imprisons us, freedom rarely comes to mind. Being a “prisoner” probably comes more to our minds (if at all) in thinking about work or the schedule our kids impose upon. Some of us may find this to be true about ministry as well.

It could be very easy to think that maybe nothing is keeping us from freedom. Nothing is holding us prisoner. So for small group point people, is there something that could be enslaving us, making us a prisoner without us even knowing?

It’s the subtle things in life have the rippling effects in my ministry that can take my freedom, even more than the “big” sinful issues can crush. Don’t get me wrong; those “big” sins can be very damaging, enslaving, imprisoning and destructive. However, it’s often these “easy” things in life, things that in the moment seem insignificant, that can become the “big” issues in your life?

Could these “easy” things actually hold us more captive than we think and in reality take our freedom in Christ? See if these “easies” resonate with you.

Its “easy” to:

  • avoid conflict and the difficult conversations
  • not answer the phone when you know it’s that same guy that you have talked to 10 times in the past week about the mess that he is in
  • turn into a vegetable when the kids go to bed and not show my spouse the love and attention that she deserves to receive from me
  • go to email in the evening, where I’ll get my pats on the back and recognition of authority
  • say that conflict between two volunteer leaders will simply work itself out
  • let programs dominate our small group ministry
  • not make space to have lunch with family
  • not make space to have a date with my wife
  • give in to the distraction and temptation that Satan puts in front of me
  • not exercise
  • not read my Bible or pray
  • to compare
  • to care too much about numbers
  • say yes to every member’s ideas of what our small group ministry should do
  • not involve the right people in the decision making process
  • to be tenacious, because it’s much more difficult to be wise and patient

Do you do what’s easy, and not necessarily what’s right?

Is it possible that all that “easy” stuff in my life is really not “easy” but actually a prison guard we don’t realize is taking our freedom away?

Is this “easy” taking our freedom and slowly constricting our life? Is it suffocating our marriage, family, friendships, or small group ministry and we don’t even realize it?

I would encourage you during this month, where we as a nation celebrate freedom, to look deeply into your life and see if right outside your heart is a prison guard named “easy”. Galatians 3:22 says, “But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.”

Trust Christ to help you do what’s right, not the “easy” guard that takes your freedom.

Steve Gladen is the Pastor of Small Group Community at Saddleback Church. His latest book, Small Groups with Purpose: How to Create Healthy Communities, was published earlier this year.

Posted in Feature Articles for Point People, Steve's Tips | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Group Talk! Rethinking Leadership Development

Welcome to the summer grind.  It always seems like summer is a time to catch your breath in ministry. But alas, it is really the time to be preparing for the next season including developing your Small Group Leadership Team.  There is always more training that can be done.

You say:

But what needs to be communicated?   

How should it be delivered?  

When should it be done?  

What’s the best delivery system?

I’m glad you asked.  Ben Reed will be our featured guest on GroupTalk on Thursday, June 14 beginning at 12 Noon Central Time and he will be answering many of these questions for us.

Ben has been serving as Small Groups Pastor at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, TN for the past six years.  Though he would consider himself to still be a “newbie” to Small Groups, he is known by many as an emerging leader in Small Group Ministry.  Ben has been mentored by and is connected to some of the best minds in Small Groups.  He adds a fresh perspective and new energy to the discussion of Biblical community and is proficient at developing systems and strategies for developing Small Group Leaders.

If you’d like to connect with Ben, you can do so on Twitter, Facebook (or HERE), or his blog.

Please join us for this free one hour conference call.  Simply dial into the new conference number, enter the access code and enjoy the discussion.  If possible, please avoid internet based phone services.

If you miss the live call, no worries, all GroupTalk calls are recorded and available for you at

And you can participate… We would love to address your specific questions, so please, email your questions to me in advance or during the call at

Conference Call Details:

Date: Thursday June 14

Time:  1:00 PM (ET); 12 Noon (CT); 11:00 AM (MT); 10:00 AM (PT)

Dial-in-number:  1-626-677-3000 NEW NUMBER

Participant Access Code:  24247

Jay Daniell is the host of Group Talk. You can email your questions in for the next Group Talk to Jay at

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Leadership: Who is Next?

“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” John 20.21

We are all sent. It is built into the identity of a Christian. We are sent by God with the gospel as disciples to go make more disciples…who go make more disciples. And the great news is we as ‘sent’ ones of God, are sent with the power of God himself at work within us (Acts 1.8)! Which means God, not you, is going to make things happen when you go about his business of making disciples. This is great news for disciples.

I think where this hits us is in how we in the local church train our leaders to be makers of disciple makers. To say it another way: I think the WIN for a small group leader should not be in how many attend their group, but in how many are SENT to plant new groups. This is a much healthier barometer of success for us as pastors & leaders in the local church.

Identifying and developing a person whose next step is to make more disciples is a joyful work for any disciple maker.

By and large we all agree with this in principle. But we parrot this concept to our group leaders who look at their group and go “sure, that sounds nice, but…nobody in here could be a leader.” I think I’ve heard that statement more than anything else, and when I start to dig, the reason I find is that they are often looking for an “ideal” instead of a few tangible signs that this person is headed in the right direction.  Here are some things I help small group leaders look for in our church to figure out who is next to plant a new small group from theirs.

3 Markers for Who is Next

1. Actively Maturing in Christ. Notice, I am not saying they are “mature” in Christ. Let me explain. We often have this mythical spiritual scale that has a red line on it somewhere, and once a person passes that red line in their spirituality, then they are qualified to lead. Can I tell you something…there is no line. Let me hedge that: I am not saying a new convert should be in leadership in the church. Paul warns us against this very thing (1 Timothy 3.6) as it can set them up to swell with pride. That said, who in your group is showing clear signs of walking with Christ? Are they generous? Do they live and breathe the Scriptures? Are they sharing their faith? Is all of this coming out of the gospel? Again, not “who is the perfect christian” but who is showing signs of belief?

2. Commitment to the church and the group. Who in your group has moved from “church shopper” to “committed?” Do they get pumped about the vision of the church? Can you count on them every week to be there at group? I bet you can think of these names really quickly. Who is “in?” These are some of the most likely people to get excited about the idea of leading a small group. While they may not feel they can lead, they do love their church and are committed to its health. This is huge in leadership.

3. Evidence of biblical leadership in their lives. Not the “CEO” leadership skill set, but biblical leadership. This is closely related to #1. In their relationships and responsibilities right now, are they leading out in what God has called them to? Is the husband leading his family in Christ? Is the college senior honoring God in her studies? Is the single 27 year old exalting Christ in how he works? BASICALLY: Do they have the character & courage to follow christ in the circles of influence he has placed them in right now? If they do, then you can be confident they will do so as a group leader.

Use these 3 markers a fresh set of lenses to look at the faces in your groups. Now, very few will embody a “yes” to all three. But that just means you now have some tangible pieces of a discipleship plan for those not yet ready to be sent out!

Are they a YES to any of them? Then start there and work with them on the others.

We are sent by God himself to make more disciples. Which means truthfully the best thing you can do for your leaders is pray. Pray God would press this on them as a joyful expression of the gospel in their life.

As you get ready for your fall Small Group season, start thinking & praying about how you can change your culture from an “attending” one to a “sent” one. 

Spence is the Small Groups Pastor at the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. He blogs at

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