11 Essential Characteristics of an Effective Small Group Pastor

On about a monthly basis, I receive a request from a church for resumes of possible small-group pastors, and even more frequently someone communicates with me wanting me to send their resume to churches searching for a small-group pastor.

This has forced me to seriously consider what makes someone a great small-group pastor. From my perspective, the 11 essentials noted below would be my requirements if I were a senior pastor looking for a small-group point person.

1. Has had a definite calling by God to be a small-group pastor.

2. Someone who is humble enough to realize and accept they fall under the authority of the elders who have oversight of the church they are serving in.

3. Embraces and adheres to the biblical expectations of an elder.

4. Is married to a spouse who has recognized and is on board with his/her husband/wife serving sacrificially in the local church.

5. Believes wholeheartedly that transformation takes place best in small groups.

6. Is a visionary with the ability to see the future, living wisely in the present, and creating and carrying out strategies that will someday make the vision a reality.

7. Knows how to and is willing to build and oversee a team of people passionate to make disciples through small groups.

8. Has a healthy work ethic. … That is, someone who works diligently and wisely and isn’t a workaholic.

9. Someone who is as passionate about discipling the small group they lead as they are about having oversight of a small-group ministry.

10. Someone who spends time daily with God and is accountable to and seeking wise counsel from a select group of people.

11. Someone who understands or is willing to learn about and build structures and systems that are the skeleton holding the small-group ministry firmly in place.   

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Rick Howerton
Rick has one passion… To see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is presently pursuing this passion as the Small Group and Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Church Resources. Rick has authored or co-authored multiple books, studies, and leader training resources including A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, The Gospel and the Truth: Living the Message of Jesus, Small Group Life Ministry Manual: A New Approach to Small Groups, Redeeming the Tears: a Journey Through Grief and Loss, Small Group Life: Kingdom, Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, and Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study, Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making. Rick’s varied ministry experiences as an collegiate minister, small group pastor, teaching pastor, elder, full-time trainer and church consultant, as well as having been a successful church planter gives him a perspective of church life that is all-encompassing and multi-dimensional. Rick is a highly sought after communicator and trainer.

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