One of the most powerful connections in the church is between the group leader and the people in his or her group. I often remind group leaders that the most trusted people in the church are small group leaders. Members of a small group inherently trust their group leader. The group leader’s comments carry more weight than anyone elses, plus a small group is inherently dependent upon direction, advice, counsel, and leadership from – their leader!
But there is one more connection that is vital for a group leader… the connection between an unconnected, unchurched person and their potential participation in a small group or Sunday School class. From my experience, there are three reasons many people choose not to participate in a small group:
- They do not know the leader;
- Their perception that the group already has existing social circles, and those circles are difficult to break into once they are formed;
- A fear of long-term commitment.
Notice the number one reason people do not participate in a small group!
A person on our team at the BGCO shared with me that she has gotten acquainted with an unchurched young adult lady that does not know Christ. It has been an exercise in persistance and patience as she has encouraged, witnessed, and ministered to this young woman. She has invited her friend to join a small group, but since she teaches 5th & 6th graders, her new friend has been reluctant. As hard as she has tried to get her friend to come to church and participate in a small group, it just has not happened.
The church is starting a new ladies small group this Sunday morning. Through some divine circumstances, this lost young adult has already met and knows the leader of the new ladies group. Although she has been invited to other groups, she has decided to join this group because she already knows the leader and it is a new group.
If you are a Sunday School or small group leader, I want to encourage you to step into the leadership God has given to you. Romans 12:8 instructs leaders to “lead with diligence”. Diligence requires intentionality. You can not lead in a vacuum! Instead, intentionally leverage the leadership that God has given to you and be a connecting group leader. If a person knows the group leader, they are more likely to join and participate in the group. If they do not know the leader… their likelihood to participate diminishes.
- Look for and meet people in worship and invite them to your group;
- Participate in your church’s outreach ministry;
- Leverage your leadership role by inviting friends & neighbors to give your small group a try;
- Put your testimony online at www.MostImportantThing.org and give the link to friends;
- Intentionally use church fellowships as a way to connect with “unconnected” people and extend community to them;
- Be available – if the people in your small group know that you want to meet their friends they are likely to introduce them to you.
An effective small group, especially a new group, is dependent upon the group leader interacting with as many people as possible so that they have a connection to you – the leader.