Yesterday I described what I believe to be two of the four ‘core competencies’ that are needed to be a successful Small Groups Pastor. Today I will give you the remaining two.
3) Strategic Orientation
Intellectual curiosity supplied the trait to ask the ‘why’ question and strategic orientation takes the knowledge gained into how to fix the problem. When this is applied to Small Groups, it enables the point leader for groups to align vision with a strategy for accomplishing that vision. Of all the competencies that have been discussed, this one area is the most crucial to being successful as a Small Groups Pastor. Donahue and Robinson speak to this fact when they write ‘Due to the decentralized nature of a groups ministry, creating a “together outcome” from independent leaders who are being empowered to shepherd their little flocks requires a point leader with a strategic orientation competency.’
From my experience, this one area is where group’s ministry is seeing the biggest change. When churches are small and their group system is only reaching 10% – 40% of their average attendance, the groups pastor or point person can afford to not be strategic because the system that is being used is not exceeding the parameters of what it was intended. When a church starts to reach and average attendance of between 500 – 1000 people a week and their groups ministry begins to average 50% – 75% involvement in groups, then that pastor will be forced to take a look at whatever system is in place and begin to evaluate the whole lot. This is because the existing small groups ‘system’ will have or will shortly be exceeding it’s intended parameters. This is where having a strategic orientation is crucial because it allows the groups pastor to look at the entire system and ask the crucial question of ‘how are we going to get from here to there’?
4) ‘Others Focus’
In the business world this would be known as a ‘customer service orientation’ but in world of ministry it is being able to look at every program, decision, initiative, or announcement through the eyes of the people who it affects; the church congregation. Because small group ministry is very decentralized, it is easy to lose touch with people when making a policy change or decision. This competency keeps the groups pastor from making a decision without first considering how it will affect the ‘average Joe” attending a particular group.
Question: If you were making a list of the key traits that are needed to be a Small Group Pastor, what would you include?
 Donahue, Bill & Robinson, Russ. Building a Life-Changing Small Group Ministry. (2012).
Bill Donahue & Russ Robinson wrote in their book “Building a Life-Changing Small Group Ministry” that they believe there are two essential Spiritual Gifts that must be present in the Small Group point person: Leadership & Administration. A point person for small groups with the gift of leadership is able to motivate and paint a picture of the church of the urgency of small group ministry. The gift of leadership is crucial to the church in fulfilling it’s potential to be a church of small groups and not just a church with small group because of the vision component of this gift and its ability to ‘rally’ others to a cause. The administration gift, which at first seems out-of-place in a ministry such as small groups, is crucial for the small group point person. Whereas the leadership gift will get a church excited and motivated to get into small groups at the onset, it will be the gift of administration that will allow the ministry to continue over the long haul. Donahue & Robinson rightly observe about the importance of the gift of administration,
“The gift of administration is essential for the small group champion because of the nature of the ministry. The requirements of structuring small group ministry, making tactical decisions, and organizing the support systems demand something more than just a leadership gift. When a gifted leader can exercise great management capabilities, small group ministry will flourish, season after season, as an expanding network of communities that meets needs, develops disciples, and strengthen the fabric of relationships with the church. Everybody gets the benefit of a strong infrastructure, so their efforts become easier due to how it all fits together.“
Filling this role on a church staff with a candidate who possess these characteristics can be a challenge. Many churches have opted instead to build a ‘team’ of people who each posses each of the individual gifts (leadership, administration, shepherding) so that collectively they can accomplish the mission of their respective ministry. Still others have ignored gifting completely and just tried to find to fill the role with a person who was maybe passionate about small groups but really did not have the right make-up for the role.
Question: what gifting is ideal or essential for someone to be a good Small Group Pastor?
 Donahue, Bill & Robinson, Russ. Building a Life-Changing Small Group Ministry. (2012). 50.
Many men & women who are currently serving in full-time time ministry often entertain the thought of ‘jumping into small group ministry’. Often this is coming from a place of frustration with their current role or the ‘warm-fuzzies’ they have experienced from being in small group. As Ben Reed so nicely wrote in a blog article “But being a groups pastor isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Or if that’s not your thing…it’s not all coffee and bagels. Turns out, this is hard work…” Small groups deal with people and their mess! As Heather Zempel has noted in her excellent book “Community is Messy” that many were ‘stirred’ into getting involved in small groups because of a talk, sermon, or lesson that focused on how great community is and how it fits neatly into the “New Testament” Pattern. But then something happened – people came to our groups! Whenever people are involved things always get messy! Why? Because people bring their hurts, hang-ups, and habits into our perfect communities. Without getting too far off track discussing the nature of Small Group Ministry and how to negotiate the challenges of ministering to people in their mess, the question of what makes a good Small Group Pastor is still on the table.
What makes a good Small Group Pastor? In my opinion, the role of the Small Group Pastor must be filled with someone who posses a make-up and gifting that is vastly different today than it was even just a few years ago. The challenge is finding candidates who posses the right qualifications and makeup to be successful in the role. Bill Donahue & Russ Robinson have correctly observed, “Small group point leaders aren’t churned out by the seminaries. The position is still under development across many churches and there’s not a vast pool of veteran small group champions looking for employment.” So what characteristics or qualities make a good Small Groups Pastor? We answer this question by looking at gifting and core competencies over the next several days.
Question: What qualities or characteristics make someone a good Small Group Pastor?
 Ben Reed, “10 things Nobody Told Me about Being a Small Group Pastor” November 26, 2012. www.benreed.net
 Zempel,Heather . “Community is Messy” . IVP. (2012) . 23-24.
 Donahue, Bill & Robinson, Russ. Building a Life-Changing Small Group Ministry. Zondervan.(2012), 50.
The ‘Megachurch’ as we know it is a phenomena that was only been around for about 20 plus years, but in that time it is growing both numerically and in influence. According to Robert Crosby in 1980 there were only 150 megachurches compared with 1,600 today. Also when you look at the total number of people who attend a church regularly, 50% of these people attend a megachurch, ‘though megachurches] only account for 10 percent of American congregations’. The numbers show that these ‘big churches are getting even bigger’ so it would stand to reason that if a church wants to make small group ministry a priority in their church, they must find a way to incorporate a small group system or ministry on a much larger scope than they may have had to in the past.
Question: What effect has the megachurch phenomenon had upon Small Group Ministry?
 Crosby, Robert. “MegaChange: 10 Trends ReShaping the American Megachurch” Outreach Magazine. (September, 2013).