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In my role for Home Missions, I have the privilege of talking with many amazing lay leaders and pastors about small group discipleship. The conversations usually start with a short story and a question. Here a sampling of the types of questions that I hear.

  • We have assigned everyone in our church to a care group for pastoral care, intergenerational relationship building, discipleship and mission. How do we train our leaders?
  • The council has decided to start small groups in order to build community within our church and assimilate new people. How do we get started?
  • We launched small groups a few years ago with the expectation that everyone would be involved. In reality, less than 25% belong to a small group. How do we build enthusiasm for small groups?
  • Why don’t small groups work at our church? We tried to launch small groups a few times over the years but they just don’t seem to last.
  • What’s the difference between missional communities, small groups and triads?
  • Should we consider the choir a small group?

I usually start the conversations with something like, “That’s a great question! Would it be OK with you if we backed up a bit and talked about how your question fits with other small group discipleship leadership questions?” I almost hear a groan on the other side of the line. They were hoping for an easy answer. Instead, they politely agree to think about additional questions.

Next, I explain that small group discipleship leadership is a lot like gardening. A gardener has predictable, ongoing tasks. Some of the tasks are fun and exciting; others require perseverance and hard work. Similarly, small group discipleship has a likely set of leadership roles. I clarify that I am not a great gardener but I watch Patti, my next door neighbor. She has a beautiful garden. In fact, Patti loaned me her favorite gardening book where I discovered several gardening tasks that all start with the letter “p”! Then, I adapted the gardening questions to fit a ministry context. The analogy seems to make sense and provides a good tool for leadership conversations.

I have attached the questions (using the analogy of gardening) for Small Group Discipleship Leadership Roles and Questions

What new questions would you add to the list? 

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