People want to go to our group–not your group. The groups that thrive practice shared ownership. If the leader does everything, the group will flounder.
This is one of the “surprising discoveries” from the research of 1800 small group leaders that Jim Egli and I conducted in 2016 and that will be published in our 2017 book called Groups that Thrive: 7 Surprising Discoveries about Life-giving Small Groups. The new research adds to Egli’s previous investigation of over 3,000 cell leaders and dives deeper into the small group itself–what does or does not make a healthy, thriving small group. The one ingredient that stood above the other key factors was empowerment. The six other discoveries were important but empowering each member was the crucial factor. If the members are actively participating, the group moves from being owned by the leader to the members–and the result is a thriving cell group.
Kim and Kim Cole love cell ministry and have been part of one since York Alliance Church began their transition in the late 1980s. They’ve also multiplied their cell many times. I visited their group several years ago and was surprised that they did not lead the lesson, nor any part of the group. I found out later that it wasn’t their turn. Others led the ice-breaker, worship, and lesson. During the refreshment time I asked them why they weren’t leading, and they told me that the members rotate each month in leading the different parts of the group. The people owned the group. They didn’t see it as Cole’s group; it was their group.
One of the key reasons why Kim and Kim Cole have multiplied their group so many times is because members feel empowered. The fact is that people want to be involved. It’s not the group of one person; it’s everyone’s group. The leader does a great disservice by doing too much and trying to control the group.
Small groups, in fact, are the perfect setting for everyone to participate and grow. Jesus chose this atmosphere and the early church thrived in the house church setting for several centuries. Converting members into ministers is a biblical theme. Scripture says that each believer is a priest of the living God (Revelation 1:6), has at least one spiritual gift (1 Peter 4:9), and is a minister (Ephesians 1:4-5).
Empowering your members will create group ownership and turn your group into a healthy, dynamic one..