The Small Group Leader

5:26:00 PM

Leadership at any level can be challenging but fulfilling at the same time. Being a small group leader is no different. There are challenges that will surface from time to time but there is a sense of fulfillment as we trust God and overcome each of them.

In this post, we will take a look at the small group leader. What I’ve seen and experienced over the years is that the vitality of any small group is largely dependent on the small group leader to what he or she does.

I specifically want to emphasize on what he or she ‘does’ and not what he or she ‘is’. I don’t believe that a small group will thrive because of the personality of the leader. It has nothing to do with it. You can have a vibrant leader and still see a group fail while you can have a quiet leader and see a thriving group.

While it has nothing to do with what the leader is, it has everything to do with what the leader does.
In this post, I’ve highlighted some of the frequent questions I’ve been regularly asked:

Why me?

Some struggle with this question: ‘Why me? There are others who are more qualified, better able and more knowledgeable than me.’

I’ve asked this too when my youth leader handed me my first responsibility. ‘Insecurity’, ‘fear’, and ‘not good enough’ were the thoughts racing through my head. But like everyone else I moved forward. At some point we’ve to come to terms with the fact that this opportunity was given to us by God. God entrusted this role not because we were qualified but because He saw the passion we had in our hearts. Nehemiah wasn’t a qualified engineer to rebuild the wall and neither was Peter a learned scholar but they saw God do great things through them because they stepped out in faith. We may not have the ‘experience’ or ‘know the Bible enough’ to lead the small group but when we step out in faith, He will work through us.

We must not doubt our role as a small group leader. God has placed us there for a purpose and He will use us to fulfill that purpose.

Why small groups?

This is really an ownership question. There are many who are handed down the responsibility to start a cell group because the pastor or the leader has asked them to. Many of us start that way but if we continue to do it because they’ve asked us to then at some point the small group will fail.

I remember the time when we were asked to step into the youth ministry. At the time, I had no burden for the youth and we were involved with the families. I took time out to spend with God and He gave me the vision of Nehemiah and said that just like Nehemiah was sent to rebuild the broken down wall, He was going to send broken people and use us to rebuild their lives. Over the years, we’ve seen many broken lives being built up.

It was a vision that God had planted in our hearts that enabled us to take up the ministry. There had been challenges and difficulties that brought us to the verge of quitting but it was this vision that fueled us to keep going despite the odds.
This is why it’s important to have a personal vision from God for the small groups. When there are insurmountable challenges that tempt us to quit, it is that personal God given vision that will propel us to move forward.

How do you select the next leaders?

One of the most common mistakes people make in selecting the next potential leader for their small groups is by handing out responsibilities in the small group and seeing who does it well. It’s a good way to start although building up leaders is not simply handing out responsibilities. Some of them simply take up responsibility because they are given.

In selecting the next potential leader, it’s important to look out for those who are committed. They may not always be the most vibrant or exuberant person in your group. One reason people stop coming to a small group is because of leader himself/herself fails to show up.

It’s also important to look for those people whose heart is in the small group. These are people whom you might’ve been after to just get to attend the small group but overtime they’ve been coming. Now they are here not because they have to but because they want to. They take up their own initiative to do things within the group. There is a heart migration that has happened. Those are the ones capable of being the next leaders for the small group.

How do you sustain and take the group to a new level?

Although there are many practical steps to do so, it’s important to focus on two key elements that can serve as a foundation for sustaining and taking the group to a new level


It’s the root foundation for any small group ministry. We’ve to pray for each of our cell group members. Jesus prayed one whole night before he selected his 12 disciples. Jesus called people who really seemed like they didn't have potential. Prayer can propel our groups to the next level when we pray. If we don't pray for each person, then who will? We need to pray for each of them because then the Holy Spirit will do wonders in their heart. Prayers bring miracles in the group that we could never do or imagine.


While prayer might draw people into our small groups, it’s our personal relationship with them that will keep them coming back. The question I always ask myself is, “Do I know at least 4 people in my group personally?” By that I mean have I taken time out apart from meeting at the small group, to meet them individually and get to know them?

When we meet them personally we need to make sure that our conversations don’t remain superficial. These conversations don’t happen overnight. It takes lots of time. It mainly requires us to be vulnerable. By sharing our experiences, we set up a spiritual atmosphere that is conducive for a healthy relationship. These people could potentially end up being people that we remain in close contact the rest of our lives ---- As leaders we need to take the initiative for these conversations.

We’ve to be alert to people’s reactions and questions. Talk about how God is working in our lives. Speak good things. Our conversations should have a spiritual aspect to it as well. Avoid gossiping, cribbing and talking about unwanted things. Set the ground for a fruitful relationship.

We might get hurt in the process; but the truth is that even Jesus was betrayed by His friends. The worst that can happen is that the relationship might end. But if we are willing to trust God and take that step of faith then it might pave the way for great friendships. That should be a chance that we are willing to take.

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