Like to know one of the biggest secrets to leading a healthy, vibrant, life-changing small group? Last year, our survey of Life Group Leaders showed that groups who shared leadership as a Core Team were much stronger in all the other areas of group health. Having a Core Team is one of the “Seven Signs of a Healthy Small Group”: The group is team-led by 2-4 members who share leadership. No one leads alone.
Over the last two days I’ve had two separate discussions with other small group ministers about using Core Teams. The discussion focused on the difference between sharing ownership and sharing leadership of the group. I did not make this differentiation very clear in The Pocket Guide to Burnout-Free Small Group Leadership, so I’ll try to clarify here.
A Core Team shares leadership of the group. Practically, this means meeting together to discuss the mission and purpose of the group and make decisions together. An individual group leader should never make decisions alone for the whole group. The Core Team also takes the lead in shepherding and discipling other members of the group. They may serve as “mentors” for newer Christians in the group.
Core Team Members are not better than or higher up than other group members. Their role is to serve the group through their shared leadership. At least two (and quite possibly all three) of Jesus’ Core Team Members (Peter, James, and John) had a hard time understanding this. They thought their leadership roles in the group entitled them to higher positions, power, and privileges. Their leader had to remind them that to lead is to serve (See Mark 10:35-45).
Another key to a healthy group is sharing ownership with everyone in the group. A goal of the Core Team is for every group participant to have a role in the group.
People who have a role and participate show up at meetings, get more involved, and grow in their faith. They help the group grow and build itself up, as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:16). I’ll write more about group roles in a separate post.
And, here’s the really really cool thing: Over time, participants who share ownership grow to share leadership and become part of the Core Team. As the group grows numerically and spiritually, Core Team Members begin to form their own Core Teams and naturally step out together to launch a new group. This isn’t just theory. In the few churches I know who are using Core Team Leadership (including Northeast), groups are healthy, growing, and multiplyong without being askd!