I began my Christian journey at BridgePointe in September of 2014. I was not raised in any religion whatsoever and was an agnostic/atheist. I'm sharing my story as proof that you do not need to have had a long journey following Jesus or a lot of prior knowledge of the Bible to be a small group leader.
I had been a member of a couple of BridgePointe’s small groups before. Then my life went through an unwelcome upheaval, and attending one of BridgePointe’s weeknight small groups became a real challenge. I became a single mom, and I work full time. I also spend nearly two hours commuting each weekday, and I needed to get my daughter to do her homework in the evenings and get her to bed on time. I felt like I was waning spiritually because I realized I needed to engage with other Christians in a more intimate setting to grow in my walk with Jesus, but I wasn’t sure how I could do that given my new schedule.
I prayed about it, and God did show me a solution which seemed like it could work! I tended to wake up very early every day, even on weekends. My energy levels are also highest in the early hours of the morning. I could host a Saturday early morning women’s small group, and my daughter would be sleeping in anyway, so there would be no need to actively tend to her. I swear God must have a sense of humor because when I asked Him whether starting my own small group was the right thing to do, I could almost hear Him laughing and saying, “the answer is not ‘no.’”
I was intimidated by the idea, because the small group leaders I knew had been entrenched in their faith for years. They knew so much! What I observed, however, was that their leadership styles varied, but there was a common thread. All of them had a heart for sharing the Gospel, and all of them wanted to strengthen their fellow Christian brothers and sisters in their spiritual journeys. When I disclosed to a few of them that I was considering leading a small group, I was met with a lot of enthusiasm and encouragement, even though they knew I was a young Christian. They were upfront and real with me. They told me some of the things they did right and wrong, and explained that the role could be challenging at times, but that it was greatly rewarding to glorify God in this manner. They explained that my own faith and understanding would be strengthened if I took the leap, and it turned out they were right.
I was very nervous, though. After a discussion with Keith, a few summer practice runs with two BridgePointe friends (who were already members of another group), the Small Group rally, and a lot of prayer to God for the correct outcome, the date and time for my small group was added to the list. I knew that one of two terrifying things was guaranteed to happen - either no one would sign up, or at least one person would sign up! Two ladies, whom I didn’t know at the time, signed up. I reached out to them by phone and was somewhat shocked when at 7:30 on a Saturday morning, they showed up at my home. We had a lively discussion, and the following week, they came back! Since then, more members have joined.
Here are just a few of the many benefits that I discovered while leading a small group:
You will learn so much from your members! You may be hosting the forum and facilitating the discussion, but that doesn’t mean you have to be the expert. There were plenty of times when the group would read a passage together and struggle to interpret its meaning. The Word of God and prayers are even more alive when spoken aloud and shared amongst us. One of the most exciting parts of leading a group is when you witness your members getting that “a-ha” moment during interpretation of, or application of, scripture in their own lives during discussion. You will have plenty of those “a-ha” moments for yourself, too!
Small group leadership will hold you more accountable to staying connected to scripture throughout the week, especially because you’ll be facilitating the discussion on the passage and doing some light preparation beforehand. If you struggle like I do with keeping the Lord a priority in your life, running a small group is a great way to help you establish a weekly rhythm of worship.
You will strengthen your connections within the body of Christ, and you will help your members do the same. Time and again, I have felt like the Church was my second family, and my members and I have felt comfort as we leaned on each other and encouraged each other in our personal struggles. It is what God intended for us all along!
Snacks, coffee, and a clean house! On a more humorous note, a side benefit to hosting a group was that I was forced to clean my home at least once a week before members arrived.
I hope the above convinces you that leading a small group leadership is worth the undertaking. If you are facing the problem that I did, where you can’t find a group that fits into your schedule, just start your own. You may be surprised to discover that others are in a similar schedule bind.
If you’re hesitating because you feel that you’re not ready or that you don’t know enough, just approach Him with your motives for pursuing the endeavor and ask Him to strengthen you for it. He knows your heart and will guide you week by week. For me personally, hosting a small group was a big exercise in trusting Him, and I know that that is one of the primary things that He wanted me to learn from the experience. There is no doubt that embarking on this effort paid itself back tenfold in blessings. I know that if you try your hand at leading a small group you will find the same true for you.