Home Small Group Leaders Articles for Small Group Leaders LEADING vs. MANAGING Group Ministry

LEADING vs. MANAGING Group Ministry

My definition of “leadership” is “the ability to obtain and retain followers organizing them, unifying them, and directing them to accomplish a God-given vision.”

My definition of “management” is “supervising an efficient workforce through which the necessary work is completed in a timely and effective fashion.”

  • Leaders bring people on board by sharing an unimaginable, nearly impossible dream.
  • Managers recruit people by telling them there’s a job that needs to be filled and that they will find personal satisfaction in filling that position.
  • Leaders invite people to go on a journey with them.
  • Managers encourage people to come work alongside them.
  • Leaders inspire the teams they lead by casting vision.
  • Managers motivate the people who work for them by reminding them of the importance of the task they’ve been assigned, the money they’re being paid, or that they will be evaluated at year’s end.
  • Leaders equip those they lead realizing that the people they’re equipping will someday take on even greater roles in the future.
  • Managers get the best out of people then discard them if necessary OR if someone else seems more apt to do the work more effectively and efficiently.

Leaders lead from an impassioned heart while managers work from a rational mind. While both are important, a movement leading groups point person is more leader than manager most of the time.

Nehemiah gives us a look at the soul of a CALLED leader, someone chosen by God to accomplish an unfathomable vision.

  • “I sat down and wept and mourned for days” (1:4)
  • “I continued fasting and praying” (1:4)
  • Listen to His emotional prayer… “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night…” (1:5 – 6b)
  • Before Nehemiah completed his task he went on to face cynics within his own ranks, enemies dead set on stopping the work, and even the possibility of physical attack. But he and his followers moved forward. You see…

Called leaders are so passionate about the call God has placed on them that they…

  • Pray Obsessively. They pray for God to send the right people to the ministry, people who will sacrifice much to see the vision become a reality
  • Inspire Others Purposefully. Through the uninhibited passion that radiates from them, great leaders attract like-minded followers with the leadership gift. Leaders attract leaders!
  • Build a Team of Leaders of Leaders With Intentionality… Leaders of leaders who work closely with them. In most group ministries these are coaches who inspire, educate, and keep the vision alive in every small group leader as the small group point person is unable to relate to every person in an ever expanding ministry.
  • Retain Followers Enthusiastically. By consistently declaring and unpacking the inescapable, exhilarating vision statement, the small group point person retains those who long to be around until the vision becomes a reality.
  • Overcome All Obstacles Courageously. No matter if the leader faces excessive scrutiny, intimidation, bodily harm, even death, the work does not stop.

If you’re going to lead a movement your passion and willingness to make sacrifices must be so off the charts that it is a magnet to would be team members.

About the team you lead… It’s imperative that you put the right leadership team in place to walk alongside you. No one can go it alone. Even the most visionary of leaders will lose heart if he or she has no one to encourage them and hold them accountable.

A few suggestions…

  1. Get someone to join your leadership team who has the gift of faith and/ or the gift of encouragement. When you begin to lose heart the person with the gift of faith will remind you that God is still at work and that the best is yet to come. The team member with the gift of encouragement will remind you what has been accomplished and, in so doing, will lift your heart so that you will stay in the game.
  2. Be certain you have someone on your leadership team who is a practical strategist. A vision without a strategy is just a dream that never comes true. My friend Eddie Mosley, the practical practitioner in the small group world, often reminds me that dreamers are seldom effective strategist. Every movement needs a visionary and a strategist. Be certain you have someone on your team who can create and oversee action plans through which the vision becomes more of a reality every year.
  3. Be certain those on your leadership team have completely bought into the dream you have. Nothing is more discouraging than being with your highest level of leadership and someone questioning the vision God has given you.  
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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.