In some ways this is both bad news and good news. The bad news is that leaders and their groups definitely do need more support, equipping, and coaching than many churches provide. Some church leaders have the attitude of, “We have small groups that are meeting together, so discipleship must be taking place.” Not good.
But there’s some good news tucked away in there too. To borrow the illustration from the article, some pastors would not want an overarching group of leaders in the denomination headquarters telling them what to preach on Sundays. They might say that they know their people better than someone who has never spent time with them. They’d point to the principle of shepherding. In some ways, the same applies to small group leaders. Good, healthy leaders are primarily shepherds who know the sheep under their care, love them, invest in them, and prayerfully seek to lead them, as they follow the Great Shepherd. If these leaders have been well-equipped, church leaders should be able to trust them to shepherd their group members.
Note the IF. It’s essential. Shepherd leaders must be equipped, prayed for, loved, invested into, and coached. When they are, that’s good news for everyone involved!
Here’s my reply:
One issue involved in this discussion is how we define leadership and oversight. Is the traditional top-down approach or a more decentralized, participative, bottom-up approach better?
I think this is an important topic, and it includes in it decisions about control, trust, the work of the Holy Spirit, vision, oversight, training, coaching, and more.
Please weigh in with your thoughts on this!