Why is leading groups ministry often such a lonely job?
Every Sunday your people gather under the Word, partake in the sacraments, and participate in formative and corrective discipleship. Then they scatter for six days of spiritual formation in community on mission. As your church grows, someone on your team is increasingly tasked with leading your people to scatter well. That pastor might be labeled “groups pastor,” “director of spiritual formation,” or “associate discipleship minister.” But whatever you might call that job in your context, you’re the groups guy.
But here’s a crucial question: Why does it tend to be such a lonely job? Sadly, the very men tasked with shaping discipleship in community are often laboring alone. You probably don’t need another conference, another book, or another one-size-fits-all strategy. In order to fruitfully lead our people into spiritual formation in community, we must first pursue our own spiritual formation in community.
We must be formed in community before we form others through community
Information transfer that does not translate into transformation just turns us into heads on sticks. That is why we have deliberately built the Community Leadership Cohort on a heart-centered foundation of praying together, playing together, and staying together. We will share meals. We will circle the fire pit and share redemption stories. We will aim for the heart and respond in prayer as the Spirit guides. And we’ll do all of it in spacious, modern lakeside homes set in nature. In this way, we will not only work to build sound spiritual formation strategies that we can carry home, but we will also work to build friendships that will carry us when we’re home.
We will not only work to build sound spiritual formation strategies that we can carry home, but we will also work to build friendships that will carry us when we’re home.
How can we, as pastors, increasingly model the kind of transformational community we’re calling our people into? In order to lead our people deeper into community, we don’t just need greater depth of insight into our people —we need greater depth in our own souls. But that deepening requires us to know and be known in a community of peers. That deepening requires that we take time away to talk, think, pray, listen, and reflect. It requires margin on the page. If we are going to be faithful and fruitful for a lifetime, we don’t just need biblical principles and best practices. If we’re going to finish well, then we’ll need to pause. We’ll need to be pastored.
The best strategies aren’t built in isolation
What are the irreducible elements of transformational Christian community? Ministry practices can and should frequently change, but what are the deep, unchanging principles that should constantly shape and reform our ministry practices? We will answer these questions together and consider how ancient formation principles still have much to offer the local church, regardless of context.
Whether we call them small groups, Sunday school, or missional communities, most of us feel under-equipped and under-supported in our attempts to make them better. It’s widely understood that Scripture consistently warns against trying to grow or go alone. But it’s easy to forget that Scripture also warns against leading alone—instead, it is “by wise guidance you can wage your war…” (Prov 24:6).
Staying the course is harder than it looks
Even when we manage to develop sound ideas for spiritually forming our people, we often flounder in execution. Without support and accountability, we don’t decide as clearly or execute as consistently. As time slips by, we grow discouraged when all our efforts aren’t seeming to make much of a dent in the spiritual formation of our body. Countless well-conceived community formation strategies die on the whiteboard. And of the strategies that do make it off the whiteboard, many still suffer from mission drift, opposition, or flat-out abandonment. How can we grow in not just charting the course, but staying the course with conviction and stamina?
Without support and accountability we don’t decide as clearly or execute as consistently.
Get equipped to lead with confidence and clarity
Most pastors lead their people on Sunday mornings with far more confidence and clarity than they lead them the other six days in between. Therefore, the Community Leadership Cohort has been designed to equip you to:
- Lead your people deeper into discipleship and farther out on mission in the everyday stuff of life
- Lay the theological and philosophical frameworks on which small group ministry practices can stand firm
- Build structures of community that will help your people stop merely “considering their own needs in the presence of others”
- Call the people of God to own the mission of God for the glory of God
Goals for cohort participants
- Completion of a clear church-wide spiritual formation strategy—in writing—that meaningfully holds hands with both your church’s assimilation strategy and mobilization strategy
- Growth in personal spiritual vitality, sabbath rhythms of work and rest, and consistent spiritual disciplines
- Growth in self-awareness, understanding of team dynamics, and ability to flourish as a second chair leader
- Growth in contentment, emotional health, and self-awareness—which are really all aspects of biblical humility
- Renewed encouragement, energy, and conviction for equipping the saints
- Filling your toolbox with a myriad of tools with which to equip your people to be and make disciples in community on mission
- New friends to lean on for encouragement, accountability, and prayer
- Access to phone coaching and encouragement from Justin, Jared, and J. J.
How can pastors help their people stop living alone together? The Church needs humbly-confident shepherd-leaders who are able to cast a vision for whole-church equipping for the ministry and mission of God.
We encourage you to consider joining us for the 2019–2020 Community Leadership Cohort, so you might be equipped to increasingly and consistently: (1) lead your people with humility and courage, and (2) lead your people out of isolation and into community.
The Community Leadership Cohort gathers together three times in a twelve-month span—twice in Dallas/Ft. Worth and once in Oklahoma City. It is facilitated and hosted by Jared Musgrove and Justin Elafros of The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX, and J. J. Seid of Frontline Church in Oklahoma City, OK. Learn more about the facilitators here and apply here.
First Gathering: Fall 2019
- Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
- Thur, Sep 5th, 9:30am—Fri, Sep 6th, 12:00pm
Second Gathering: Winter 2020
- Oklahoma City, OK
- Thur, Jan 16th, 9:30am—Fri, Jan 17th, 12:00pm
Third Gathering: Spring 2020
- Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
- Thur, April 30th, 9:30am – Fri, May 1st, 12:00pm