You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)
Leading a Small Group is hard. It can be a lot of fun, and it is one of the most rewarding things you can do; but let’s face it. It is not convenient or easy. It requires you to give up freedom of time and action for the sake of others. It requires taking on a certain level of responsibility for the growth and development of others. It requires extra work, less sleep, and more accountability. So, it might seem a little ridiculous to suggest that in the midst of this we would ask you to identify emerging leaders and invest in them. Why would we add this to your load and how could we reasonably expect you to make it work on top of everything else you are doing?
Fair question. First, identifying emerging leaders and investing in them is not as difficult or time consuming as it seems. Second, not only is it something that can be even more rewarding than leading a group, it is something that can make leading a group easier. Third, we have set up the Small Group Ministry so that we can partner with you in investing in new leaders and provide tools and opportunities that will make investing in leaders something we do together rather than something you do on your own. This month we want to spend a little time talking about why it’s important to identify and invest in leaders and how we can approach it in a way that is not overwhelming.
Why Should We Identify and Invest in Emerging Leadership?
1. We are commanded to do it – Jesus’ final command to us (and by virtue of this fact, one of His most important) was to make disciples “in our goings” (Matthew 28:19-20). That is, as we go about our day-to-day business, we should be making Christ-followers out of the people God brings along our path. Investing in people on a deeply personal level is not optional; it is required (if we want to be disciples ourselves). If we love Jesus, then we will love people and want them to know Him more.
2. Someone did it for you – I don’t know of any self-made Christ-followers. I know people who came to believe in Jesus by just reading the Bible, but learning to follow Him requires relationships. If you have reached the point of leading a Small Group, chances are that someone along the way invested in you. Think of the people in your life who have shown you what it means to live for Jesus and have poured His love into your life. Think about the difference it has made in your life. You have the opportunity to make that difference for someone else.
3. Emerging leaders are also ministry partners – While investing in emerging leaders is almost entirely about the good of another, there are some very real practical advantages. If you are investing in developing someone for leadership, you will need to give away ministry to them. In so doing you lighten the load. Not only can they help you with your small group, they are there in relational support. Ministry can be a lonely place at times; having a partner can make a huge difference.
How to Identify and Invest in Emerging Leadership
1. Just do what you do – Identifying and investing in leaders begins with leading your small group. As you grow together as a community, there will be loads of opportunities to invest in people within the context of just doing group. Your small group provides an environment for you to get to know the people in your group on deeper levels. You have opportunities to ask people questions, pray for each other, and give away ministry opportunities in regular group activities. This is investing in people, and if you are already doing this, you are already investing and developing leaders.
2. Pray, Pray, Pray – Perhaps the most significant way you can invest in the members of your group is to pray for them. Prayer is so powerful for it brings the very power of the Holy Spirit of God to bear on your small group. Not only will it impact the lives of those in your group, prayer will put you in touch with the heart of God for your group members.
2. Look for F.A.T. people – But how do you identify who the emerging leaders are in your group? As you do what you are already doing in your group, look for the people who are F.A.T.: Faithful, Available, and Teachable. Faithful? Do they show up for things and follow through with responsibilities? Available? Do they have time to meet and talk? Teachable? Do they respond well to the insight of others? Do they seek out input from others? If someone God has put in your group or life demonstrates these traits, they are just waiting for you to invest in them in more direct ways and we want to help you with that (more on that below).
2. Invest relationally – I think one of the things that is so overwhelming about the idea of investing in someone is this feeling that we have to have all the answers or follow some kind of format or program. Having talked to many leaders about people who invested in them, not one of them mentioned a program or specific lesson that they learned from a mentor. Each and every one of them talked about presence. What made the difference was the long term presence of that person in their lives and the love they felt from them – not any curriculum or program. You don’t need to have all the answers or even feel like you know what you are doing. You just need to be willing to invest a little time into someone the way someone did for you. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. Discipleship is more caught than taught.
3. Make small investments – Small investments can make a huge difference over time. Investing in someone can take place over coffee once every other month; over dinner once a month before group (if you rotate this, it is a great way to invest in everyone); or in a 20 minute phone call on the way home from work. As you invest relationally, give away bigger bits of your ministry to share the leadership load.
4. Take advantage of us – We are here to partner with you to invest in others and we want to make investing in leaders as easy and as joyful as possible. Investing in leaders is the most important thing we do. This is why we put so much of our time and resources into LifeSupport. Your LS Group is a great resource. If you have an emerging leader, invite him/her to come with you and let your LS invest and encourage with you. Go through the ServePoint study to help your group members identify and invest their gifts. And of course there is Group Launch as a way to invest in new leaders, where we play a major role in resourcing and training the new leader to ensure they are fully supported.
How awesome would it be to identify and encourage new leaders in your group as you do life together; invest in them for a time through small personal interactions and your LS Group; walk with them through the Group Launch Process (attend Inform with them and stay in touch through the process to encourage them); and then find yourself sitting across from a fellow Group Leader when its all said and done in what is now their LS group as well as yours?
1. Think of a person who really went out of their way to invest in you. How did they make you feel? What difference have they made in your life?
2. What reservations do you have about this whole idea of making disciples and investing in leaders?
3. What are some ways that you can be more deliberate about investing in everyone in your group just within the context of your normal group activities? What are some simple things you could add on that would not overwhelm you?
4. Who comes to mind in your group when you think of potential leaders? Who are the people in your group or in your path who God might be calling you to invest in more directly? Are they F.A. T.? Why is that important?
5. How could you invest in this person in a way that will not overwhelm you? What are some creative possibilities that would allow you to invest relationally and be a deliberate presence in their life? How could you give away ministry to them?