The Changing Nature of the Small Group Pastor’s Role – Part 1

I can rememberchange-ahead-hrer it very clearly now; the plan!    I was going to graduate from Bible College       and become a youth pastor, but something   happened along the way. I discovered that   students are messy and do not fit into my type ‘A’ personality. I was then left to figure out what ‘career path’ I was left to follow. I considered preaching & teaching but soon     discovered that I was not particularly gifted at   it so I was left to consider children’s   ministry, which like student ministry, I knew that I was not cut out for. Music ministry was out because I am in no way a musician! So what was left? About this same time, I became exposed to something new for me, which was the area of small group ministry, and I was immediately captivated by it! As I gained more and more exposure to small groups ministry, I soon discovered that my personality, gifting, and overall approach to ministry was a perfect fit for this type of ministry.

Fast forward a few years and I was now firmly settled into my role as a small group pastor at a large church, and I began to notice an interesting dynamic. Most of the guys that I knew personally where wired almost exactly the same way that I was and they were having tremendous success in their ministry. When I compare this to what many people view the role of the typical small group pastor to be, I began to see a bit of a disconnect. This is due in large part to both a misunderstanding on the part of people in churches with small groups and also on the part of many students in our seminaries who are training to become a small group pastor.

I contend that the role of small group pastor is changing! The days when the typical small group pastor could spend his days at his favorite coffee shop and fill his calendar with ‘face-to-face’ meeting with his leaders will have to be replaced with strategy sessions over organizational charts and refining small group systems. In short, the days of the relational small group pastor are coming to an end and the rise of systems thinking, operations based pastor is already taking place and the churches that are realizing this and hiring this skill set are winning at small groups and the remainder are being left behind.

What is your experience with the personality makeup of a successful small groups pastor? Are we seeing the end of the relational focused small groups pastor?


3 thoughts on “The Changing Nature of the Small Group Pastor’s Role – Part 1

  1. I can see why you might think that, Brian, and it might be true in some instances, but I’m still practicing and teaching the idea that the role of the small group pastor is very relational.

    At the same time, WHO they need to spend time with is influenced by span of care issues. In small group ministries with more than 10 groups the small group pastor role becomes primarily about investing in their coaches (who in turn are spending time with 4 or 5 small group leaders).

    What do you think?


    1. I am not saying that the small group pastor role will ever lose ALL of it’s relational focus. What I am saying is that what I am observing is that the lead small group payor needs to be a person who understands systems and administrative functions so that the entire organization is effective and growing. From my experienced, people who are 100% relational struggle in this area and up till now that has been the pro-type for a typical small group pastor.


  2. Hey Brian, I would agree and see this shift as well. While there will always remain a strong relational component to the role of Groups Pastor systems thinking and strategy skills personally dominate more of my time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s