1. Embrace God’s unconditional love. If you don’t “know that you know,” and you’re not at peace with your relationship with God and, more importantly, his relationship with you, you will not be able to love others unconditionally. Petition him to show you how much he loves you, and he will be happy to do it. He’s just that kind of Papa!
2. Maintain a clear and compelling personal vision for your group as a whole as well as the individual members of your group. This will help you make decisions when things get fuzzy and remind you of why you are doing what you’re doing when things get tough (and they will!).
3. Small group leadership is more about friendship than any other single component. If you invest in the lives of your members and invite them to invest in you, you’ll impact people in ways they will never forget.
4. You are not supposed to carry the weight of your group. Excellent small-group leaders involve others in planning and execution in every aspect of the biblical community: meetings, outreach events, social activities, ministry time in the group, ministry and servanthood outside the meeting, etc.
5. Focus on Christ in your midst to experience his presence, power and purposes for your lives when you come together. During worship, invite each person to give up his or her personal agenda to receive ministry, offer ministry, do the talking, remain silent, etc. When we gather in his name and expect him to do powerful things in our midst in which we will follow, the meeting becomes transformational for those in attendance.
6. Be a disciple (not just a convert). Converts know God saved them and expect to be spoon-fed regularly for sustenance. Disciples have taken personal responsibility for their spiritual maturity and feed themselves with prayer, digging into the Word, fasting and reading books that help them become a better disciple and, more importantly, a disciple-maker.
7. Your mental model as a small-group leader should be the same as a parent. Actively raise your members so they want to grow in maturity, move out of the house, start a family of their own and give you a bunch of spiritual grandbabies! Small-group leadership is all about developing a legacy. Tell your group this is your end-goal in life with them. Rinse and repeat often because they’ll forget!
8. Focus on the six days and 22 hours between meetings. That’s where the real ministry and personal transformation occurs. Leaders always focus on the meeting because it’s where their position is viewed most publicly. However, if you invest in your members between meetings, then everyone feels more comfortable in the meeting and they’ll share openly.
9. Reaching people for Christ requires bi-directional servanthood and cross-pollination. For people to see you as a genuine friend, you must ask them to help you and serve you as well as serving them. Additionally, you must involve your unbelieving friends in the activities and lives of other members of your group to win them to Christ and actually disciple them. It takes a village to reach someone for Jesus and support them as they embrace Lordship!
10. You cannot do the next cool thing God wants to do with you until you give away what you’re currently doing. Who could you develop to take over your group so you can start another group, assume the role of a coach, take a staff position or plant a church? This may seem scary right now, but that’s because you haven’t given away what you’re doing. As soon as you do, you’ll see your spiritual future (your next step) in a very exciting way. Trust me on this one!