When a keynote speaker is needed for a conference, where do organizers turn? They contact a speakers bureau to find an experienced speaker that’s available to talk on the topic of their conference.
Where do school administrators go when a teacher has to miss class? They have a list of substitute teachers they turn to so the classroom has someone the students can learn from and hold order in the classroom.
When a preacher goes out-of-town, where does he turn? He has a network of pastors or assistant pastors within the church that he can reach out to and fill in for him.
Where Do Group Leaders Go for Substitute Leaders?
When group leaders are not able to attend and lead their small group, how does that gap get filled? Someone from the group needs to volunteer or be volunteered to fill in. But should that be the only choice?
It is perfectly fine to have someone from within the group perform as a substitute leader when it is appropriate. An advantage is that there are very private things shared within the small group. The level of trust should stay high with a small group member leading.
But for many small groups, identifying someone within the group to act as the leader for one or more sessions can be stressful for both the group leader and the members. Not all small groups have an experienced small group leader built into their membership. Guilting a member into leading is wrong. Putting a member into the leader position without training and without an experienced leader present is risky.
Why can’t a church have a Small Group Leader Bureau, similar to a speakers Bureau? Group leaders can draw from this group when they are temporarily unable to lead their small group?
The Small Group Leaders Bureau
A list of potential substitute leaders would be available for group leaders to tap when needed. Each of the available leaders would already be trained and have proven experience.
What are some of the benefits of having someone from outside the group come in and lead? Members get to experience a new leadership style and they can learn from a different set of knowledge and experiences of the substitute leader.
With the substitute leader coming from the bureau, small group members will likely share personal experiences without a concern about maintaining confidentiality.
Building the Small Group Leaders Bureau
I know, there aren’t enough people who are volunteering to be group leaders to fill in the need that now exists. How will there ever be enough people to have substitute group leaders at the same time?
If you look around, you may find that there are several people who have experience being small group leaders who are no longer able to fill that role on a regular basis.
- Some people may have schedules due to family or work that are not consistent, so being able to lead a group at the same day and time of the week is not practical. However, they may be able to fill in as a substitute group leader from time to time.
- You also may have group leaders who are not in a working status. They may be retired for example. Although they have a responsibility to care for one small group, they may enjoy leading another small group on a temporary basis.
If you don’t have a large pool of people who could be small group leaders on a substitute basis, are there other churches in your area that also have small group ministries? You could work together to offer this valuable function.
The next time a group leader needs to be away for one or more of the group sessions, take the pressure off by having a list of built-in substitute leader that can be counted on.
Question: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages you can think of for using substitute small group leaders in this way? You can leave a comment by clicking here.