By Joel Comiskey, 2017
In our upcoming 2017 book Groups that Thrive, Jim Egli and I point out that anyone who loves God and loves others is a super candidate for small group leadership. It doesn’t matter if group leaders are married or single, younger or older, highly educated or illiterate. It also does not matter if they are male or female, rich or poor.
We also discovered that the personality type and the spiritual gifts of the leaders don’t matter. Introverts are just as successful in leading their groups to growth as extroverts. Leaders lacking the gift of evangelism are just as likely to have a growing group as those who do have the gift. The gift of teaching, a highly valued gift in many churches, also makes no difference in a group’s long-term growth.
One very encouraging implication is that all of the factors outside of a leader’s control don’t matter to the success of a group. You can’t control how old you are, what type of personality you have or what your spiritual gifts are—but none of these things make a significant difference. The differences between successful leaders and unsuccessful ones all relate to controllable behaviors, not to predetermined traits. The research reveals that anyone can be a successful leader, no matter what his or her personality or place in life, if the leader looks to God and reaches out to others in caring ways.
Small group leaders should be encouraged by our research. Whether you’re male or female, educated or uneducated, married or single, shy or outgoing, a teacher or an evangelist, you can grow your group. The anointing for multiplication doesn’t reside with just a few. These statistics reveal that gender, age, marital status, personality, and gifting have little to do with effectiveness as a small group leader. As we’ll see in the following chapters, thriving groups depend on simple basics that anyone can put into practice.
I encourage small group leaders to view all members as “potential leaders” (disciple-makers) and sponsor all of them to eventually become part of a leadership team. I’ve noticed that there are far too many “assistant small group leaders” who do nothing but occupy a title. Such a title draped over one or two people often hinders other members from assuming the role of leader.
Granted, not everyone will lead a group for a variety of reasons. But as soon as a small-group system is infected with the thinking that only certain people can lead a group, many believers will become frustrated, forever classified as incapable. The body of Christ belongs to the Body of Christ. As leaders, it’s important to commit to train each believer to minister. We must commit ourselves 100% to the priesthood of all believers. I believe that we will reap a mighty harvest, as we commit ourselves to prepare and use young Christians, women, the less likely, and everyone else in the congregation.