If you wait for perfect people to lead your small groups, you’ll be waiting until Christ’s return. You don’t need all-star, supertrained small group leaders to create a successful small group ministry. All you need is people who are willing and obedient. Remember, God doesn’t call the equipped; he equips the called. Using biblically solid studies, even a member who is very young in the faith can be a host (our term for small group leaders, which will be explained in greater detail in chapters 12 and 13). We get people involved early in leading groups and then help them to develop the required skills as they lead.
Prior to coming to Saddleback, my small group strategy was to fully equip leaders through training before actually allowing them to lead. At Saddleback I worked with a team to develop a different strategy. The idea is to give people an entry-level opportunity to lead a small group. They don’t have to be seasoned veterans of the faith. They don’t have to be experienced leaders. We have made it very simple for people to take a first step into leadership.
This is the model Jesus gave us when he chose twelve ordinary men to be his disciples. His first words of training were follow me. “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men’” (Matt. 4:19). That invitation started a three-year process of on-the-job training that culminated in the disciples being so committed that they were willing to die for the cause. The problem in churches is that we often skip past the follow me and scare off leaders by asking them to come die for me.
Gladen, S. M. (2011). Small groups with purpose: how to create healthy communities. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.