Why the Best Small Group Leaders Are Facilitators

Why the Best Small Group Leaders are Facilitators

Jesus took a ragtag group of fisherman and turned them into the pillars of the early church. He molded and shaped them in the small group atmosphere and then prayed for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them. They turned the world upside down. Jesus is doing the same thing today as he turns cell members into disciple-makers who make new disciples. One of my favorite book titles is Turning Members Into Leaders (Dave Earley) because cell groups are leader breeders and Christ’s goal is to make disciples who make new disciples.

In the past, my rallying cry was “anyone can be a leader.” That sounded good, but I also noticed that the word leader was full of cultural baggage. Didn’t Jesus tell us that the greatest will be the servant of all? Yet, the world’s idea of leadership often includes domination and control—not servanthood. And didn’t Christ’s great commission tell us to make disciples who make disciples? He did not tell us to make leaders.

In fact, leadership in the New Testament was always plural, never individualistic. Thus, I began to realize that I needed to emphasize team leadership to stay biblical, so I changed my rallying cry to anyone can be part of a team of disciples who make other disciples. Granted, one person will be the point person who leads the team, or better yet, facilitates the team. You’ll notice that I often interchange facilitator with leader because facilitation accurately describes what effective leaders do. The word leader often projects the image of someone who most of us are not. Very few feel like leaders, and even those who have visible talents and self-confidence are riddled with a sense of their own inadequacy.

So what makes a great team leader (facilitator) and what do great team leaders (facilitators) do? I can think of several things:

  • Prioritize time with God. The best team facilitators hear from God and lead by example. Those following them know that they are men and women of God. Godly facilitators prioritize their families and know how to rest (day off) as well as to work hard.
  • Facilitate the group. The best facilitators take the group from my group to our group. The goal is total participation. The worst facilitators dominate and control. The best facilitators get everyone involved in the different parts of the group, as well as each member using his or her gift (s).
  • Expect group members to evangelize. Evangelism is not optional. Great facilitators expect members to grow their discipleship muscles through diligently reaching those closest to them (oikos). The facilitator guides the group to pray for the unchurched as well as promotes plans for outreach events.
  • Developing new team facilitators. Cell churches have clear, feasible equipping for everyone in the church that prepares new team members to launch new groups. One of the goals of the point leader is to make sure everyone in the group is taking the  discipleship equipping.

In the month of August, we’ll take about how to turn members into ministers. Pastors and leaders will write 20 blogs on the topic of group leadership. We’ll cover:

  • Week 1 (August 05-11): The spiritual health of the group leader. This involves prioritizing intimate relationship with God and family.
  • Week 2 (August 12-18): From my group to our group. The best leaders guide the group away from  “my group” to “our group” which means that everyone is participating, using their gifts, and becoming the priesthood of all believers.
  • Week 3 (August 19-25): Evangelism growth. Great group leaders make sure members are outreach oriented and do not stagnate into club status (koinonitus). The goal is to prepare strong disciples.
  • Week 4 (August 26-September 01): New Team Leaders. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. But this also involves making sure they’ve gone through the equipping and developing a team. Ultimately, the leader has to move on.

In your experience, what makes great team leaders?

This article originally appeared here.

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Joel Comiskey
Joel Comiskey (Ph.D. Fuller Seminary) is an internationally recognized cell church coach and consultant. He has served as a missionary with the C&MA in Quito, Ecuador and is now founding pastor of a cell-based church in Southern California. Joel has written best selling books on the worldwide cell group movement. He teaches as an adjunct professor at several theological seminaries. Joel Comiskey Group is a tax exempt, non-profit organization dedicated to helping complete the Great Commission in this century by providing resources and coaching to plant new cell churches and transition existing churches to cell-based ministry. For further reading on this topic, see Comiskey's books Making Cell Groups Work Navigation Guide and Home Cell Group Explosion.

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