Being a small group leader is a seemingly overwhelmingly responsibility. At least, that’s what some will say. I actually believe that almost anyone can be an effective small group leader. That is, anyone whose heart is in the right place. Sorry to say, not everyone’s heart is in the right place.
There are three group leader types that may be hazardous to those they lead as well as being a hazard to the reputation of the small group point person, the church leader that allows them to lead.
- The self-proclaimed Bible scholar – There are those people who long to lead so that they have an audience to teach. These types will study hours upon hours so that they can, “teach a lesson.” The self-proclaimed Bible scholar sees himself or herself as the only expert in the room and they speak to others in the room as though this is true. These group leaders don’t lead a discussion that allows the Holy Spirit to teach the group, they declare a message that allows them to prove their level of biblical understanding. Don’t get me wrong. These people may have the gift of teaching, a gift that should be exercised, just not in this way and for sure, not during a small group meeting.
- The self-taught psychologist – A plethora of books, tv shows (Dr. Phil), blog posts, and Facebook videos are available that tell us about the human psyche. And many people, even some group leaders, are learning the lingo and giving their hearts to the diagnosis of and emotional healing of their small group members – in lieu of leading the group to learn, embrace, and live the Gospel. While every group leader should aid group members in their emotional healing, every group leader’s primary role is to promote the Gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work. Confusing psychology with theology will lead to little spiritual growth and will oftentimes lead the group members to believe that God’s primary responsibility to make them happy rather than their role being to bring glory to God.
- The self-aggrandizing long-term leader – On rare occasions a group leader that’s been in the game for some years concludes that they don’t need a coach, don’t need input from the church’s group point person, and don’t have any obligation to be held accountable for anything they do. This leader type is extremely dangerous. The self-aggrandizing long-term leader is desperately dangerous because they are apt to become so emotionally separated from the group ministry that they run rampant. And a group leader running rampant is apt to, 1) discuss decisions made by the small group ministry leadership team with other concerned leaders creating a debilitating coalition, 2) feel no obligation to be held accountable for what they study or teach which could lead to false teaching taking place in their group, 3) through their attitude and actions lead other group leaders to believe it’s okay to be a self-aggrandizing long-term leader.