Apprenticeship x Reflection = Multiplication
Leadership development is the lynchpin of successfully reproducing and multiplying small groups. But how do leaders really develop? How does a small group leader go about developing a process for raising up apprentice leaders? What will truly help another leader grow in their small-group facilitation and spiritual maturity?
Before you ever think about multiplying small groups, leadership development needs to be on your mind. Without leadership, small groups stagger from week to week, struggle to keep discussion moving, and grow stale in the vision for their group. Apprenticeship is the lynchpin for successfully reproducing small groups in your church or ministry for the hopes of drawing more and more people into a friendship with Jesus and others. It's is one very useful way to develop small-group leaders, because it involves spending time with one another, intentionally observing and reflecting on experiences, and moving toward the goal of actually leading another small group.
Dave and Jon Ferguson of Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois offer a very helpful twist on one popular model of helping emerging leaders catch the vision. Imagine the "I" in this model is the small group leader, while "you" is the apprentice. You may want to read through this a couple of times before moving on; it's is not only a wonderful model for developing apprentices, but a wonderful model for developing anyone.
I lead, you observe, we talk.
I lead, you help, we talk.
You lead, I help, we talk.
You lead, I observe, we talk.
You lead, someone else watches, we talk.
The twist here -- and the trickiest part as well -- is the last two words of each phrase: we talk. Reflection is one of the most important things that we can do to help others develop. Intentionally talking and listening to another person seems so simple, and yet it's a critical piece that's left out of so much training. Here are three areas vital to the reflection process:
1. Help emerging leaders grow in their strengths. Some leaders will have the ability to ask good questions and lead discussions, while others are going to be stronger in their ability to create hospitable and friendly environments. Help your leaders to know how their gifts and strengths can best be used in a small-group environment.
2. On the flip side, it's important to help your apprentices identify weaknesses. It may not be their natural inclination to be a welcoming person or to be a good facilitator at first, but identifying blind spots and weaknesses will help the leader to develop the assets that are crucial to leading a small group.
3. With those two things said, the last important reflection point in an apprenticeship is tohelp leaders move towards crucial assets that make up a healthy small group leader. What I mean by that is: While a leader will always have strengths and weaknesses, all small group leaders need to develop the ability to catch and cast vision, facilitate life-giving conversation, and create an environment that can bear the weight of friendship, conflict, and time.
This model may take some time to really take root in your church, but a healthy and growing small-group ministry survives and thrives where leadership development is intentional and consistent. God transforms apprentices into leaders, especially as leaders help them to see God's vision for growing friendships with Jesus and others.