What is a small group leader?

Let’s make sure we’re on the same page right from the beginning. Perhaps it will help to start by looking at some potential small group leaders to show what a small group leader is not.

Hannah Hostess: A true small group leader is (or is becoming) more than a host or hostess who opens up his or her home to the group. While this is a very worthy role in the group, the leader has a different assignment.

Ferdinand Facilitator: Hannah and Ferdinand are related. A small group leader is more than just a discussion facilitator. This may be part of the role of a leader, but only a small part.

 Billy Bible Scholar: Billy might be a good small group leader, but his leadership is not based on his superior knowledge of the Bible or ability to quote large portions of Scripture. Remember, “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). (This verse provides an indication of at least one attribute you do need as a small group leader!)

Lisa Leader: Believe it or not, leadership may not be the most essential spiritual gift you need as a small group leader. You can use different spiritual gifts to lead a life-changing group, depending on the type, personality, and purpose of your group. God provides each person in the group with spiritual gifts to help the group function. Lisa’s job is to facilitate the use of these various gifts.

Teasley Teacher: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16, emphasis added). In a small group, everyone is involved in teaching one another! As a small group leader, Teasley needs to be more of a shepherd than a teacher. He does not have to be the group’s “Bible answer man.” Neither do you.

Eddie Educated: While a good education does not preclude Eddie from small group leadership, it also is not a prerequisite. Eddie’s heart is much more vital than Eddie’s education.

Chris “Super-Stud” Christian: In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees were the super studs of the religious world. Jesus’ followers, on the other hand, were simple, run-of-the-mill, average Joes. Jesus spent time with some everyday people and made them extraordinary. Chris does not have to be the perfect Christian (whatever that means) to lead well.

What Is a Great Small Group Leader’s Role?

Perhaps the best job description for a small group leader comes straight off the pages of the Bible, from 1 Peter 5:2-4. The writer, the apostle Peter, knew what he was talking about, too. Peter followed the World’s Greatest Small Group Leader for several years. Look closely at this passage, print it out if you must, and underline the words or phrases that you think describe the attributes of an effective small group leader.

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away (1 Peter 5:2-4).

This passage was written to elders in the first-century church (see v. 1). The principles for and attributes of leadership also apply to what a small group leader is called to do in today’s church.

In World’s Greatest Small Group, I refer back to this passage often and discuss the attributes in detail—all to help ordinary people lead extraordinary small groups!

-Michael C. Mack,
World’s Greatest Small Group

Click here to find out how to purchase copies of World’s Greatest Small Group.

Creating Authentic, Ground-breaking Communities

A big part of your role as a leader is to do everything you can to help develop an authentic, ground-breaking community! As a shepherd, what do you do to make this happen?

  • Pray regularly for and with the members of your group.
  • Keep in touch between meetings. Call, e-mail, visit.
  • Accept everyone, regardless of personality differences. Author John Ortberg makes this astute observation: “[Here’s] a deep theological truth: Everybody’s weird. Every one of us—all we like sheep—have habits we can’t control, past deeds we can’t undo, flaws we can’t correct.” *
  • Deal with conflicts up front. Don’t try to wish them away or pretend they aren’t there. For more help on this subject, see Pat Sikora’s book, Why Didn’t You Warn Me? (www.whydidntyouwarnme.com).
  • Stay positive. Group members sometimes tend to become negative—about other people, the church, you name it. Turn the tide as soon as you can. It seems like a lot of people complain and gossip, but very few people want to be in a negative group.
  • Focus on people, not the program. As Ralph Neighbor says, “The people in your group are the agenda!”**

Community is the environment in which everything else happens in a small group. It is the soil in which people grow spiritually.

From World’s Greatest Small Group by Michael C. Mack

Find out how to purchase copies of World’s Greatest Small Group.

*John Ortberg, Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), 18.

**Ralph Neighbour, Jr., The Shepherd’s Guidebook, rev. ed. (Houston, Texas: TOUCH Outreach Ministries, 1996), 67.

Five Benefits from World’s Greatest Small Group

Janet Branham, director of small groups at Ward Church (Northville, Michigan), recently wrote to tell us how using World’s Greatest Small Group (WGSG) as a training tool for her small group leaders has benefited everyone involved:

“I wanted to do something to encourage my leaders; I thought this might be some good summer reading for [them]. I also like the idea of maybe bringing you up for a training session in the future and I thought it would create more interest if people had read your book.

“Also your website says that you offer a free consulting appointment with purchase. Is that offer still available? I’d love to chat with you about what’s going on here and also see what you might offer in terms of training for our group leaders in the future.”

Janet is definitely on top of things when it comes to getting the most perks out of the book. In case you need to catch up, here are Five Benefits of World’s Greatest Small Group:

  1. Unity among your leaders. Reading WGSG together creates cohesion between your small group leaders. They can consult with each other as they review the concepts of becoming the “World’s Greatest.” (This applies to your coaches as well!)
  2. Free consulting appointment with Michael C. Mack. For pastors who use WGSG as their training for small groups (and purchase 20 or more copies of the book), Michael is offering a free hour of consultation. Contact him at Mike@SmallGroupLeadership.com for more information.
  3. Group discounts on bulk purchases of WGSG. Take advantage of buying in bulk so everyone can benefit from WGSG. Go here for more information.
  4. Speaking engagements with Michael C. Mack. What a great way to make the concepts of WGSG more tangible by having the guy who wrote the book speak with your leaders. Check here for Mike.’s availability.
  5. Print or digital options. WGSG is available in print or for Kindle or Nook.

If you have any questions about these perks, feel free to contact Michael at Mike@SmallGroupLeadership.com.

No, You’re Not The World’s Greatest Small Group Leader. But that’s Okay.

God is not looking for you to be the perfect small group leader.
I wrote The World’s Greatest Small Group not because I think I’m the world’s Greatest Small Group Leader—I’m not—but to help you learn from and thus become more like the one who is: Jesus.

God is not looking for you to lead the perfect small group.
While Jesus’ group was a mess and often dysfunctional, it was healthy. That might seem like an oxymoron, but Jesus understood the principle of process. He saw not only what they were, but what they were becoming. And often this process of becoming looks very messing. But think about this: Jesus’ dysfunctional group became The World’s Greatest Small Group.

Do you have what it takes?
Do you have what it takes to be a small group leader? Depending on your perspective, you can answer this question two different ways:

NO—You do not have what it takes … on your own, under your own power, with your own intellect. That’s why it’s so vital to remember that Jesus is the real leader of “your” group. “’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).

YES—Don’t forget that Jesus calls unschooled, ordinary men and women to follow him and then turns them into world changers. If you follow Christ, the World’s Greatest Small Group Leader, he will use you to do extraordinary things. Don’t sell yourself short. Say, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, New Living Translation).

By God’s power, you can do this, but you must start by first seeking after him.

-Michael C. Mack

Find out more about purchasing The World’s Greatest Small Group at special discounts by clicking here.

BIG Discounts for SMALL Group Leaders

World's Greatest Small Group CoverBetween now and August 31, you can take advantage of discount prices when you purchase World’s Greatest Small Group for your small group leaders.

  • 25% off when you buy 1-19 copies.
  • 40% off when you buy 20+ copies.

Go here for more details.

Michael Keaton – Small Groups Pastor, Crossroads Church, Newnan, Georgia – is using World’s Greatest Small Group to train small group leaders.

Michael gives some reasons he is using World’s Greatest Small Group:

“I wanted to give my small group leaders a resource to read. As I considered the Fall ministry plan it seemed like a good fit to get the book at the beginning of our semester when we launch groups.

“Our plan is to give the book to leaders and then bring in Michael C. Mack for a talk a few months later. It will be a great intro.

“At first, the title caught my eye, but then as I read I realized Mack had a similar heartbeat, and I loved that. We are big on making disciples. I especially loved his emphasis on the leader’s spiritual vitality. That was huge to me and I connected to that and it is a similar heartbeat of mine.

“I loved the chapter on shepherding. The book was a great option because of its simplicity, length, topic, readability, fit with our focus, and it deals with practical advice and teaching on leading a small group.”