Small group leader training…part 1

When communicating an issue of leadership and training.  Especially one that I am so passionate about (small group leaders) I think it’s important to know who is communicating and who is influencing them.


So, first….a little about me, my influences, our church, & our model. 

Me:I serve as the Grouplife Pastor at New Life Church in Renton, WA.  I am charged with moving the vision forward at our church and our community in the area of small groups.  My wife (Brenda) & I have been involved in small group leadership for over 15 years.  We’ve attended New Life since 1979.  I’ve served in both full time and volunteer ministry for the last 21 years.  Four years ago I moved to Atlanta where we attended Northpoint Community Church and served as group leaders and Assimilators.  God then moved us back to Renton, WA in 2004 where we serve currently. 

My Influences: I’m greatly influenced by the Bible.  It’s clear we need to be in community to truly be the church.  I’m also influenced by the groups strategy at both Saddleback Church & Willow Creek.  Clearly, my greatest influence (other than the Bible) would be from the time I spent with the leaders at Northpoint.  So, although many of my strategies are fine tuned for the people at our church and I’d like to think they’re original…they are just a combination of a bunch of stuff that I like and I feel like God has for our church.

Our Church: We are an 80 year old Assemblies of God church that was a strong Sunday school church.  Over the last 4 years we’ve slowly and delicately turned the ship to become a church of small groups.  It’s truly in our DNA.  Our senior leader leads a couples small group on Wednesday nights in his home with his wife (this if vital in my opinion).  We still have a couple adult Sunday school classes that still meet and they continue to thrive because of great leadership.

Model: We have Married groups, men’s groups, & ladies groups.  They connect in a gathering called Grouplink where they commit to an 8 week starter group.  After the starter group period they will either commit to that group for the next 18-24 months or they will come to the next Grouplink and connect in another group.  At the end of the 18-24 months the group multiplies and starts at least 2 sometimes 3 new groups at the next Grouplink.  This is an oversimplified description but it’s important to know the model we use as I talk about leadership development.  What we do for leaders would likely work for you if you have a different model…but there would likely be adjustments that would need to be made.


Next session….How to raise up leaders, expectations, applications, & interview.


Q/A: Question submitted by Pete Wilson How do you get your leaders motivated to want to come to a training in the first place?  Great question Pete…I’ll answer with 3 parts…Vision, Strategy, & Application.  Vision – It’s my responsibility to make sure that the group leaders are always seeing the big picture of why we do groups.  This is why it’s so vital that the Sr. Leader is at least involved in a group that operates within your group strategy.  That way he/she will simply bleed about their experiences.  If we keep the big picture before our leaders…then when we come after them to present ongoing training…we have one less hurdle to overcome.  Strategy – Strategically we have six leader essentials that we focus on.  We focus on one essential at each training then repeat/rotate.  This way the leaders don’t deal with the thought that they “already went to that training before”.   Same essentials/different presentation.  As well, we strategically put the training times during key times of the year and we offer them during convenient times so it’s easy for the leader to engage (I’ll go into detail about the six essentials in part 4).  Application– I have a relationship with all our leaders.  Now…it’s not a strong personal friendship relationship because there are too many to handle.  Yet, it’s close enough that I know them by sight/name and connect with them every time I see them.  Even if I bump into them at the grocery store at midnight….they get my attention.  I think that someone in my roll can be personally responsible for around 70-80 leaders.  I connect with them in many ways (Sunday mornings, email, 1:1 meetings…) and communicate our training strategies as often as possible.  Practically…we offer our main training on Sunday mornings twice a year opposite of services so the leaders can transition from service to training.  Our goal is to make it easy, obvious, & strategic.  With all that said…do I get 100% participation 100% of the time…no.  But I will say this….100% of the people who come to the training have substantially healthier groups than those who do not come.  I find creative/positive ways to share these stories with leaders who have not attended lately.  It’s a long road…but nobody ever said leadership was an easy and short road.  Thanks for your question.


Tell me about you, your church, your influences, and your model?

2 responses to “Small group leader training…part 1

  1. Jerry Blanchard

    I read your blog! (patting myself on the back). Good stuff. I actually really believe in blogging; I just haven’t gotten into it. I suppose it would be good for me to latch onto some marriage expert blogs and stay in touch. Blogs help you not to feel alone nor feel like you have to know it all.

  2. Great post. I particularly like the importance you are putting on “vision”. I think you’re right that the leaders have to get the overall vision. Keep up the great work.

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