The most vital mark of kingdom leadership is a leader’s relationship with God. And that’s the second sign of a healthy small group: a healthy growing leader.

The apostle Paul prayed for his Ephesian friends that “Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.” (Ephesians 3:17, NLT). While I pray that prayer regularly for the Life Group leaders at Northeast Christian Church, I think it’s OK to pray it for myself as well. So, Father, I pray …

  • that Christ will be more and more at home in my heart … so I am living the superabundant life he came to give me — life that is naturally overflowing out of me to others;
  • that I may stay connected to the Vine daily (John 15:5), abiding in him so that I can bear much fruit for you, fruit that will last,
  • that, as Christ becomes more and more at home in my heart, others around me may follow my example … but only as I follow the example of your son,
  • that my roots keep growing, deeper and deeper into your awesome, abundant, undeserved, undeniable love,
  • and, as a result (fruit), that Christ will also be more and more at home in the hearts of my family, my friends, my neighbors, and our small group members — as they trust in you as I do.

Yes, the first sign of a healthy group is that it is Christ-centered, but that will only happen if he is first at the center of the leader’s life–at home in his or her heart. (“The ‘heart’ in the Bible always refers to the center of a person’s emotions and will.”  —Life Application Bible Commentary)

May Jesus be at home in your heart, leader. This is more than a surface-level relationship. It is very intimate. This is more than just occasional. It’s constant. It’s why Paul encouraged us to pray “continuously.”

Nothing is more important than this. If Jesus is at the center of the leader’s heart and at the center of the group, the group you have been entrusted with will be on its way to health, strength, growth, and vitality.

So how’s your heart? Or, better yet, who’s at home there?

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Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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