Small Group Leader TIPS of the Week: March 6-10, 2017

Here are this week’s Small Group Leader TIPS of the Day as Tweeted, posted on our Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn. Use these tips in your ministry. Retweet or repost them to your friends and followers!

Walk w/ ppl thru their dark valleys, love them, encourage; don’t try to fix the situation. — Small Grp Leadership (@michaelcmack) March 7, 2017

Ask a mbr to summarize the points of your discussion b4 discussing how you’ll apply it. — Small Grp Leadership (@michaelcmack) March 8, 2017

The best way to know and shepherd grp mbrs is to spend time with each 1 OUTSIDE of mtgs. — Small Grp Leadership (@michaelcmack) March 9, 2017

Facilitate w/ both the task- and relationship-oriented person in mind. — Small Grp Leadership (@michaelcmack) March 10, 2017

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS here!

Don’t Let the Sheep Lead the Flock!

God often takes us places we didn’t plan to go.

As I got into my rental car in Louisville, Kentucky, to head out to The Groups Conference in Mattoon, Illinois, where I was speaking last weekend, I set the route I wanted to take in Google Maps and headed out. I was driving along the highway with the radio cranked up, enjoying the drive, when, about 2 hours in, Google Maps told me to get off the highway, at least 30 miles before my next designated turn. I took the exit as GM instructed and then looked at my phone to see where it was taking me. It looked good: a straighter shot than the highway although smaller roads. As I went, the roads became even smaller and smaller and less and less smooth, yet I was enjoying the sites on this country road that I never would have seen on the highway. At one point, GM told me to turn down a dirt road that had just had gravel added. The car in front of me took the same turn, and at several points, the dust from the gravel became so thick I couldn’t see. All I could do was stop the car and let the dust settle. At places in this drive, I had no idea where I was; I felt lost. I was in Illinois in the middle of a lot of barren fields, but I began to see small oil-well pumps. I’d expect to see those in a place like Texas, but Illinois? Then I saw a sign that said “Louisville, 7 miles.” I felt like I was going in circles! I yelled at my phone, “What are you doing? Where in the world are you taking me?”

Eventually, the back roads took me to the expressway, and I got to Mattoon safe and on time.

I admit that I too often treat God like I treated Google Maps. I set my own destination and course for “my” life. I enjoy the easy ride for awhile, but then I come upon a detour that takes me off the road I had planned to travel. I’ve been in those places where the dust and gunk of life became so thick that all I could do was stop until eventually the dust cleared enough to go on. I’ve felt lost and confused. I’ve wondered why I wandering. I’ve yelled at God, “What are you doing, Lord? Where in the world are you taking me?”

Yet, eventually, I get to a better place—and this has taken years of my life—and it’s not until I get there that I can see what God was doing. In the middle of the detour, I believed I didn’t deserve to be where I was. But afterward, I could hear God say, “Yes, you didn’t deserve this detour to your plans, but I did it for your good anyway.” While these times were difficult and heavy and painful, I saw and learned things about life and about God that I would not have seen or learned otherwise. He taught me to rely on him and trust his course for my life. He gives me opportunities to show others who are currently detoured that God is faithful.

If you lead a small group or family or team or any other collection of people, you will soon discover that they too end up on detours in their lives. Sometimes these detours look very much like the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). Yet, somehow, he is guiding them along the right paths for his name’s sake (v. 3). Your job is not to steer them back to the road they wished they were on or planned to be on. Your job as a shepherd is not to fix them or the circumstances. Your job is simply to walk with them through it. You shepherd them as the Good Shepherd guides you. You simply overflow (see v. 5) the compassion and love and peace and comfort and wisdom and power that he has poured graciously into you. Just be with them during these times.

Often, people don’t want to go where the Chief Shepherd wants them to go. He leads us out of our comfort zones so that we will rely on him, not ourselves, for our comfort and peace.

God leads us out of our comfort zones so we will rely on him for our comfort. Click To Tweet

Guiding people to go (or as they go) places where they do not want to go is not easy or comfortable for you or them.

God wants your group to go and make disciples, but they want to stay on the smooth and easy road they know of comfort, stability, and safety.

God wants your group to serve the poor and hungry and homeless and imprisoned, but they want to serve themselves with good meetings and safe relationships.

God wants them to mature so that they will take on leadership and feed others, but they just want to stay put and be fed.

If you as God’s shepherd-leader decide to follow the Chief Shepherd, you will face conflict from sheep who don’t want to go there. I can point to many biblical examples of this, but one of the clearest comes from the Exodus and the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness. They were off course from where they expected to be. They were looking for the Promised Land, but found themselves in the desert. Moses was their shepherd but he found himself in constant conflict with stubborn sheep. Moses heard God’s voice telling him to lead the people, but he also heard the loud bleats of sheep who didn’t want to go God’s way. When this happens as you lead, what do you do?

  1. Always, always, always hold high the values and principles found in God’s Word. Don’t give in to lesser values.
  2. Listen to God’s voice first (and you need to spend time with him—abide in him—to hear him), and then to people’s voices. When there is conflict between those voices, refer to #1.
  3. Don’t kowtow to people who prefer their comfort over God’s mission.
  4. Don’t let the sheep lead the flock!

Don't let the sheep lead the flock! Click To Tweet

God has chosen you to lead his flock. He has entrusted these people into your care as an act of stewardship. He wants you to invest into them, care for them and, lead them to where he wants them to go. He wants a return (Matt. 25:14-30)! He wants fruit (John 15:8). Be a wise and faithful steward-servant-shepherd who follows the Chief Shepherd.

What places does God want your group to go that group members don’t want to go? Share it by scrolling down and commenting.

Small Group Leader TIPS of the Week: Feb. 27 – March 3, 2017

Friday means only one thing … the Small Group Leader TIPS of the week as Tweeted, posted on our Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn. Use these tips in your ministry!

Here they are:

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS here!

What a GREAT Leader Is (and Isn’t)

To understand what a great small group leader is, 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.

NOTE: It’s possible you have started as a host or facilitator, and those are great places to begin! Our definition of a true leader moves beyond these initial roles.

 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. Your job is to facilitate the use of the various spiritual gifts of group members.

 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 great 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. You do not have to be the group’s “Bible answer man.”

 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, and underline the words or phrases that you think describe a 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. These church leaders were called to shepherd the churches in a particular city (i.e., the church in Ephesus) or churches that met in specific homes (i.e., the church that meets in her house). This passage also applies to what a small group leader is called to do in today’s church.

The passage reveals the roles and responsibilities God gives to small group leaders. I refer back to it throughout World’s Greatest Small Group Leader. In each of the chapters of the book I discuss one of the 7 powerful traits of a life-changing leader. The World’s Greatest Small Group Leader, Jesus, modeled these traits, and we can develop them as well. When we do, Jesus has promised that we can do the same kinds of works he did, and even greater works (John 14:12)! Yes, it may sound crazy, but even ordinary people like you and me can lead extraordinary groups—the World’s Greatest Small Groups!

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: Never 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).

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World's Greatest Small Group CoverExcerpted from Michael C. Mack’s newest book, World’s Greatest Small Group.

Get more information about the book or order yours now!

The Best Small Group Coaching Resources

Every small group needs a coach to be healthy, grow, bear fruit, and eventually reproduce themselves.

I have tried every coaching model and system I could find, and I made up some of my own along the way. Several times I totally eliminated my whole coaching structure and started over with something new. All I wanted was something that actually worked with voluntary leaders and didn’t take up most of my time.

Along the way I’ve found 5 great resources I’ve used together to develop and lead a working coaching strategy. Here they are and how I used them. (I’ve linked each of these resources—the first four to Amazon—so you can check them out or purchase them yourself.)

Coaching Life-Changing Small Group Leaders: A Comprehensive Guide for Developing Leaders of Groups and Teams

By Bill Donahue and Greg Bowman

I used this book as a resource for training the coaches under my care and I also gave it to directors who also oversaw coaches. It’s the most comprehensive of the coaching resources and will provide you plenty of material for developing your coaches, continually training them, and resourcing them.

A Pocket Guide to Coaching Small Groups: Befriending Leaders and Helping Groups Produce Fruit

By Randall G. Neighbour

I bought these little books by the dozens and gave one to each coach. This book is (intentionally) concise, an easy read, simple to implement, and Christ-centered. Because of the book’s size, readability, and practicality, I knew I could get my coaches to read it, and when they did, they took more ownership in the process.

 

How to Be a Great Cell Group Coach: Practical Insight for Supporting and Mentoring Cell Group Leaders

By Joel Comiskey

I’ve used this book as an additional resource for equipping and continuing to develop my coaches. I used many of the very practical strategies, ideas, and tips throughout the book, conveniently placed in call-out boxes on almost every page. I’ve also quoted Comiskey quite a bit from this book. Often, when I’d meet with my coaches—either together in coach clinics or one on one—I’d use material from Comiskey’s book.

 

Ordering Your Private World

By Gordon MacDonold

Why is this book on a list with coaching resources? Because I gave one to each of my coaches. I considered this a big investment in these vital people in our small group ministry. This book was life-changing for me and I knew it could be the same for them. Truth is, if the private worlds of my coaches were disordered, I couldn’t expect much from them in coaching our leaders and groups. My prayer and plan was that upon reading this book, my coaches would begin to naturally overflow God’s wisdom and power out of a well-ordered heart. I also used parts of this book in my one-on-one meetings with coaches.

 

Steve Gladen on Saddleback’s Coaching Strategy: PART 1 / PART 2

As I was experimenting with different strategies, I realized—and even wrote about the fact—that different leaders needed different types and levels of coaching. (Some leaders thought they didn’t need any coaching at all, but I still wanted to care for and support them.) About that same time I came across two short articles on ChurchLeaders.com in which Mark Howell interviewed Steve Gladen about his coaching strategy at Saddleback. From these articles, I then developed a system that really worked for us. It looked like this:

PROACTIVE CARE

New Leaders/Groups or Unhealthy Leaders/Groups: Priority Care
(Ratio – ~1-3 leaders : 1 Coach)
New Leaders are full of questions and unsure of themselves; Unhealthy groups are off track in one or more of our 7 Vital Signs of a Healthy Group and need help getting back to health – Stay in close contact and give all the support they need: meet with leader, visit group, phone calls, emails, etc.

Seasoned Leaders/Groups: Personal Care
(~3-5 : 1)
Excited, ready for direction and encouragement, good enough to be dangerous! – Coach them how to be a healthy, Christ-centered, disciple-making group.

 

REACTIVE CARE

Veteran Leaders/Groups: Phone Care
(~10-15 : 1)
Know what they are doing but not immune to conflicts and issues – Touch base regularly though email, phone calls, texts, or Facebook; let the leader tell you which.

Stubborn Leaders/Groups: Supportive Care
(~25-30 : 1. We asked some older folks who had been in groups to keep in touch with them.)
Been at this for a while; they may say they don’t need to be coached, but still want to know where to go when issues arise – Leave them alone for the most part; leave a voice mail about once a month and offer prayer for them.

Small Group Leader TIPS of the Week for June 27 – July 15, 2016

Here are the Small Group Leader TIPS for the past three weeks as Tweeted, posted on our Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn. Thanks for waiting while we updated to our new website!

 

Monday, 6/27: Lead w/ the end in mind. What behaviors will change as a result of discussion? Click To Tweet

Tuesday, 6/28: Lead with humility. Focus on what group members need, not on how well you present the lesson. Click To Tweet

Wednesday, 6/29: Remember: “The people in your group are the agenda!” @ralphneighbour Click To Tweet

Thursday, 6/30: Love group mbrs intensely (1 Pet. 1:22), but love God and his mission more (1 Jn. 5:21)! Click To Tweet

Friday, 7/1: Ask the group, What idols do we as a group worship? What do we put before God? (1 Cor. 10:14) Click To Tweet

Monday, 7/4: Help group members take their burdens, sins, addictions to Jesus. #real #independence Click To Tweet

Tuesday, 7/5: Never stop learning and growing as a leader. Take advantage of every equipping opportunity. Click To Tweet

Wednesday, 7/6: Always affirm ppl when they boldly share candidly and honestly. #authenticity Click To Tweet

Thursday, 7/7: Develop the trust and love ppl need to take off masks and be their real selves. #authenticity Click To Tweet

Friday, 7/8: Be a shepherd-leader 24-7, not just 90 minutes once a week. #Pray #care #invest Click To Tweet

Monday, 7/11: Priority 1: Follow the Master Leader. He'll teach you how to lead. (See 1 Cor 11:1) Click To Tweet

Tuesday, 7/12: Sit w/ Jesus, enjoy his presence. Ask him to lead you. Stay connected to the True Vine. Click To Tweet

Wednesday, 7/13: Want group members to grow spiritually? Pray for them daily. Vital practice for leader! Click To Tweet

Thursday, 7/14: Look on grp mbrs as friends, not students, participants, or people who come to weekly mtgs. Click To Tweet

Friday, 7/15: What is most important ingredient of a life-changing group meeting? The real presence of God! Click To Tweet

Go ahead: Tweet these (or post on your favorite social network, or just email them) to your followers! Or just share ALL of them by clicking a social button below.

QUESTION: Which of these TIPS create an “aha” for you, and why? Please leave a comment by clicking the Comment bar below.

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS here!

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Weeks for April 25 – May 6, 2016

Here are the last two weeks of Small Group Leader TIPS as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 4/25: Be sure you are not in God’s way of working in your group’s or individual’s lives. Let God work. #ministry

Tuesday, 4/26: In your meeting agenda, leave LOTS of room for the Holy Spirit to work. #leadership #holyspirit

Wednesday, 4/27: Keep the main things the main things: 
1 Your relationship w #God 
2 #Love Others 
3 Your #mission 
#lead

Thursday, 4/28: Love group members more than you love your group expectations. #smallgroups #leadership #shepherd #love

Friday, 4/29: Learn to listen even when group is silent. Listen w/ your eyes. #kinesics #bodylanguage #facilitate

 – – – – – – – THIS WEEK – – – – – – –

Monday, 5/2: Move beyond the stories of what Jesus DID; discuss-better yet, experience-what he is DOING. #grow #power

Tuesday, 5/3: Healthy things grow, bear fruit, and reproduce. Use these to analyze if your group is healthy. #health

Wednesday, 5/4: Great, life-changing groups don’t play it safe. Move from comfy and cautious to courageous and costly!

Thursday, 5/5: The best community begins with a leader who spends time in solitude with God. #overflow #leadership

Friday, 5/6: Pray as though Christ is in the room with you…because he is! #prayer #presence #power #purposeful

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS!

 Follow @michaelcmack

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week: March 28 – April 1, 2016

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the past week as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 3/28: A shepherd-leader protects the flock. As terror against Christians increases, start w #prayer
RT or ♥
LIKE on Facebook

Tuesday, 3/29: Hand write a personal encouragement note to someone in your group today and send thru postal mail.
RT or ♥
LIKE on Facebook

Wednesday, 3/30: When u focus on faithfulness u will bear fruit. If u focus on fruit w/o faith, u can do nothing. #John15
RT or ♥ 
LIKE on Facebook

Thursday, 3/31: God is not a secret to be kept inside your small group. Let your light shine for outsiders to see! #Matt516
RT or ♥ 
LIKE on Facebook

Friday, 4/1: As you lead, be aware of the deceiver who conspires to #fool ppl into rejecting the Truth. #AprilFools
RT or ♥
LIKE on Facebook  

 

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS!

 

Follow @michaelcmack

The Day of Overflowing Compassion

Today is a Day of Overflowing Compassion. To fully understand what happened on this day, it helps to see Jesus’ attitudes, actions, and words before he was put on trial and went to the cross. Once, as he was walking through some towns with his followers, the Bible says that when he saw the crowds, Jesus had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:35-38).

As I reflect on what Jesus did on what we call Good Friday, I feel his compassion for me and for all those who are harassed and helpless in this life. At one time, I too was harassed by this life and felt helpless to do anything about it. I was trying to make it on my own, by my own efforts, under my own puny power. In 1988, with the help of my niece, Julie, and several other people like Thomas, I found the Good Shepherd, or rather, he found me. He drew me to himself.

At first, I was a skeptical seeker. For years I had investigated matters of faith in general and the accounts of Jesus and the Cross particularly. After lots of reading, discussing, and thinking, I could no longer deny, refute, or argue the facts of what happened that Day or especially how it transformed the lives of so many harassed and helpless people, including Jesus’ closest followers, afterward. Something unique and powerful happened that Day on Calvary and on the following Sunday morning.

In John 10, Jesus compared himself to a shepherd, a role rich in Biblical meaning. “I am the good shepherd,” he said, but what he said next is powerful: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (v. 11). That, my friend, is compassion, sacrificial love, God’s plan for connecting us back into a restored relationship with him. It wasn’t fair: the innocent paying the ultimate price for the guilty. Not fair, but incredibly compassionate.

In his compassionate love for people (see John 3:16), the Shepherd laid down his life for harassed and helpless people like you and me. It was the only way to make things right. He is the only way to a restored relationship with God.

Helpless is what I once was, but not today; today I have a Helper, a Savior, a Compassionate Shepherd who guides me through the circumstances of this life.

This is what it means to follow Jesus. On this Good Friday, I look back at what he has already done for me when he laid down his life for me and on Easter Sunday took it back up again (see John 10:17-18). But I also look forward to a Day that is coming, described toward the end of the Bible: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’” (Revelation 7:17). What compassion!

OTHER POSTS YOU MAY LIKE:

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week: 11/16-20/2015

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the past week as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 11/16: Do you feel free? Forgiven? Loved? Do you have peace? This affects your leadership. Talk to God abt it 2day.

Tuesday, 11/17: Be radically, irrationally different, as a ldr and a group. Read this from @wtmckenzie: ow.ly/UIylH

Wednesday, 11/18: Spend significant time praying. Lift your voices to God for ch ldrs, gov’t ldrs, revival, enemies…


Thursday, 11/19: Dig deeper by asking investigative, even provocative follow-up questions. #facilitate #leadership

Friday, 11/20: Focus on HUMILITY. A #humble #leader is a better #shepherd, #facilitator, #host, #teacher, member.

MORE SMALL GROUP LEADERSHIP TIPS 

10/14-23/2015
10/26-30/2015
11/2-16/2015
11/9-13/2015
 
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