Identifying and raising up new leaders can sound like a difficult task. If you're wondering where to even begin - here's a guide to get you started.
You’re not in charge of the venue, childcare, curriculum, communication, or caring for people. You’re in charge of making sure it gets done. Your job isn’t to do it – it’s to make sure that it gets done. You won’t have time to raise up a new leader or pray for your group or cast vision for your group if you’re doing everything else.
Manage Expectations (Cast Vision).
In some way, shape, or form, get your people excited about multiplying. Let them know that multiplying is a goal and a “Win” for a healthy small group.
Shift Your Thinking
Assistant vs. Apprentice. An assistant is someone who supports your ministry and wants to see you succeed. An apprentice is someone who mirrors, practices, and even challenges your ministry and (in a sense) wants to supersede you. Here's why it's important to distinguish between the two: often times your spouse will seem like your coleader (if you lead with your spouse) and it will almost feel like there's no room for an apprentice. In that case, try to view your spouse as your assistant – but let someone else be your apprentice. Your spouse will always want to make sure you succeed in ministry but your apprentice will plan to supersede your ministry.
Burden vs. Blessing. When you ask someone to take over a leadership role - you’re not burdening someone – you’re blessing someone. You're creating opportunity and potentially seeing something in them that they don't see. Often times when we ask someone to take charge of a ministry responsibility they say things like, "Really? You see that in me? You think I could do that? Wow! Thanks for thinking of me!"
Proven vs. Potential. Oftentimes when we look for leaders we end up looking for the final product rather than the potential in a person. Don't underestimate people. Most people today wouldn't be in ministry if someone hadn't believed in them or seen something in them that others couldn't see. This requires some amount of discernment. Check out this document to see the different Character Traits and Abilities that we look for in a new leader.
Start the process
You learn to swim in water. Your small group participant that you'd like to see come into leadership will learn as you give them opportunities to serve and grow. You'll be growing at the same time too. Don't feel like you need to wait until you're ready or until they're ready - chances are, you're both ready to start.
Don’t feel like you need to tell people the end goal or the game plan for getting there. Sometimes, "Hey, do you want to be my apprentice so that you can lead a small group of your own?" Is too much for someone to digest. When Jesus recruited his disciples He said, "Follow me" and it was the journey that taught them everything that Jesus had in mind. You can actually do this in a lot of discipling relationships. Oftentimes it doesn't work to go up to someone and say, "Hey, would you like to be my disciple?" but more often than not getting together with someone and reading scripture and asking spiritual questions is something they'd be willing to do.
I do, you watch. We do together. You do, I watch. You do. I love this sequence. It's great for teaching kids how to tie their shoes. You tie your own shoes while they watch. You hold the shoelaces in their hands and tie the shoes together. You have them try while you observe and coach and then finally before you know it, they're tying their shoes by themselves. People refer to the sequence in a number of ways and elaborate upon it further but it's good to keep the process in mind. Lead the group and ask your "apprentice" to observe and give feedback. Lead the group together (including all of the planning and preparation and set up and whatever other processes you do). Then have the person lead while you observe and give feedback. And then before you know it, they'll see that they're ready to lead their own group.
Consider group size. While often times 10 people makes for a good small group - you’ll probably want your group to grow past 10 – as long as you have a plan for multiplying, it shouldn’t be an issue. A group of 15-20 with no plan to multiply is almost always unsustainable but if you've got a plan in place, don't be afraid to take on new members.
Be aware of ways to multiply a group. Some options are more intimidating than others. Here are four to consider.
New Leader Takes everyone – Old Leader starts fresh
New Leader starts fresh – old leader keeps everyone
The group splits 50/50
Send out a core team of three or so people from your group
Don’t say goodbye
You and the leader you’ve raised up can continue to meet & interact at the Huddle level. Additionally, you can continue to be a resource for that person – to call and counsel as needed - so don't be afraid to raise and equip your favorite group members for the task as hand. This process could drive you both to grow deeper and closer in godly friendship.