7 Reasons why I focus on Connect Groups before/above leadership

At St Stephen’s we’re in the process of restructuring how we operate. Change is always hard because it requires…change and no one really likes change.

One aspect of leadership that has always been there since I started has been the expectation that if you want to lead you MUST be in a Connect Group and unfortunately we are only really starting to really push this now. I should have been doing this for the past 4 years, so I need to confess my sin and actually fix this as it and will stunt the growth of our church unless we put more focus into this area.

Unfortunately whenever you set an expectation like this it can smell of legalism and works; I can understand that but let me explain the thinking behind why Connect Groups are a MUST before we enter into a role of leadership.

1) It’s about Care, Support and Strength: Connect Groups are regular meetings with people to help encourage one another, support one another in life, keep each other accountable. The reason I expect my leaders to be in Connect Groups is that I want to make sure they are taken care of, supported so that they can serve the community.

Leadership within a Christian Community is probably one of the most taxing roles one could ever take up, not only are you serving and dealing with people but as we believe in the reality of the devil and spiritual warfare, whenever someone stands up and says “I want to serve the church and lead” satan steps up and says “Yeah, right” and then proceeds to attack. I want my leaders to be supported for when these attacks come.

2) You can’t lead unless you know people’s hearts: As we deepen our relationship with a small group of people in our church community we can better see their needs and their hearts. As a leader it is my/our role to serve the people that we are responsible for. It is impossible to lead unless we’re in touch with people.

3) You Can’t lead unless you’re growing: All leaders need to grow in character. Character development really only happens when we have a small group of people who know us completely, they know the last 10% (if you don’t know what i mean by the last 10% check out Billy Hybles book) and can help us…sometimes push us to deal with that last 10% rather than letting it hang over us and limit our ability to serve.

4) All Leaders need to grow in their knowledge of God and His word. The best way to refine our theological thinking is studying God’s word in community.

5) It’s about completing God’s Love in us: It’s only as we develop relationships with people around us in the church, as we do life that we can see and experience the complete Love of God. This might seem like a strange point to justify the expectation for al leaders to be in Connect Groups, but I take the words of 1 John 4:12 seriously “1No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” If we are to experience the completeness of God’s Love, we are to do life in community of believers.

6) Family Church Gathering’s aren’t enough. Probably a weird thing to say coming from a pastor, preacher and someone who spends a lot of time preparing for the Family Gathering. Sunday’s are great, they are a celebration, an encouragement, we can achieve more the more of us there are together, it is encouraging to see a great number of people gathering for the Glory of God, but I really equate them to group fitness.

Group fitness is good to maintain a general level of fitness, they are fun and social, you can get to know some people, but if you really want to develop your fitness, if you really want to develop strength, if you want to go to the next level of fitness, you need to get a personal trainer who will focus on your specific needs, someone who will get to know you and know how you think and operate, someone that knows your excuses and boundaries and will help you overcome them. That is what can and does happen in a Connect Group.

7) As senior pastor I am responsible for those who lead under me, I want what is best for you: It’s not about legalism and works, but rather it’s about care and health for our leaders.

For any community, organisation, business or group to thrive you need healthy leaders, and in the church we need to do whatever we can to develop strong healthy, supported, growing, in touch servant leaders.

In the end it’s all about developing disciples of Christ. we love you, we care for you and we want to give you every opportunity to be cared for, loved and strengthened before you lead others.