Christian writers Win and Charles Arn wrote, “Disciple-making is most effective when it is a team effort.”* This is a powerful thought for brand new small group leaders. If you’re launching a small group for the first time let me encourage with a simple small group maxim: Never lead alone.
Jesus didn’t lead alone. He had an inner circle made up of Peter, James and John who led the 12 disciples with Him. When Jesus sent the 12 out (and later the 70) He didn’t send them out alone either, rather, He sent them out in two’s. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better one.”
One of the first things a new small group leader should do is appoint an Assistant Leader (your spouse doesn’t count either). If you can appoint more than one Assistant Leader, that’s even better. Developing a core leadership team for your small group will instantly increase it’s potential and capacity for ministry. Having an Assistant Leader(s) will also be a determining factor as to whether or not your group can expand and multiply into more groups.
Allow me to share with you 4 Keys To Attracting An Apprentice…
1. Ask God To Send You An Assistant Leader For Your Small Group. Everything begins and ends in prayer. Praying on a regular basis for an Assistant Leader will begin to make you a magnet for future leaders.
Several times a week, I pray out Matthew 9:37-38: Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” God ALWAYS answers this prayer! If you don’t believe me, pray it everyday for a month and get back to me.
2. Put Your Leadership Eyes On… and never take them off! You must believe that everyone has leadership potential. Every member of your church can minister to others. I’ve heard small group leaders say people can’t lead because, “they’re single” or “they’re too shy” or “they’ve never done it before” or “they have a unique personality” or “I don’t think they’d be interested…” etc, etc, etc. Stop looking for all the reasons someone can’t do it and start looking for the ways God could use them for His kingdom.
Your Assistant Leader is out there, you just need God to show you by praying AND watching.
3. Approach Them With Vision. At some point you’re going to have to put some feet to your faith. After praying and watching for potential Assistant Leaders around you, you’re going to need to step out and approach them with vision.
Jesus approached Peter and Andrew with vision by saying, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men (Mk. 1:17).” He affirmed the leadership potential He saw in them. I recommend the same strategy.
I’ve often connected with people and said the following, “I’m going to be leading a small group to help believers grow as disciples of Christ. I’m praying for an Assistant Leader to not only assist me, but eventually help me multiply the group and start a new one. I wanted to see if you would pray about potentially being my Assistant Leader. I see your heart for God and people, and I really believe this opportunity could be a catalyst for growth in your life. Outside of the small group, we would be meeting with each other for prayer and encouragement on a regular basis. You don’t need to give me an answer right now, but take a couple days to think and pray about it and let me know.”
This is the way of the Master. This is the language of the Great Commission. It’s a vision that the Holy Spirit will echo and confirm in other peoples’ hearts.
4. Follow-Up With Them. I usually wait about a week before I follow-up with someone. I don’t want to be pushy but I also want to be diligent to ask for a commitment.
I’ll usually call them up and say the following, “Hey, hope you’re having a good week. I’ve been praying for you and wanted to follow-up from our conversation last week. Did you have any questions for me? Did you have some time to think and pray about it?”
Obviously not everyone you ask will always say yes, but you might be surprised how many people do. At first, this was a big risk for me to step out in this way and engage people. Over the years, it’s turned into an exciting part of my faith. Now, I see it as depositing spiritual vision into people for the kingdom of God.
In conclusion, I hope some of these practical steps demystify the initial process of building a core leadership team for your group. You might feel tempted to glance over this aspect to leading a small group, but it’s critical that you don’t. If you trust me and persist with this goal, I promise, when it’s all said and done you’ll be grateful you did.
Any thoughts? Questions?
Image by Danilo Rizzuti courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
*Win Arn and Charles Arn, The Master’s Plan for Making Disciples (Pasadena, CA: Church Growth Press, 1982), 67.