Note: This is part 4 of a 5 part series. You can read part 1 right here.
I love the Discovery Channel show MythBusters. The show has a simple premise: The MythBusters team “proves and disproves urban legends and popular misconceptions using a signature style of explosive experimentation.” The myths and misconceptions that get tested range from the absurd (can you herd cats?) to the profound (could Luke Skywalker really swing himself and Leia across a chasm with only his belt-rigged grappling hook). Very fun.
But you know…sometimes I run across a small group ministry myth that really needs to be busted. You know what I’m talking about?
Here’s a look at the fourth small group ministry myth that needs busting (did you miss Myth #1? You can find it right here):
Myth #4: High entry requirements for leaders ensures the safety of the flock and gives members a model to follow.
Where have you set the bar for small group leaders in your church? What are the minimum standards a potential leader must meet before they can become a small group leader? Do they need to:
- have a background check?
- have 3 references?
- have an interview with a staff member?
- be a member of a group before they can be a leader?
- be apprenticed by a leader before they can become a leader?
- be a member of your church?
- be a tithing member of your church?
- sign a leadership covenant?
Where have you set the bar for small group leaders? And why have you set it there?
The most common reasons given for setting high entry requirements for small group leaders are that
- it’s biblical (James 3:1 is often referenced)
- it ensures the safety of the flock
- it gives members a model to follow
Truth: High entry requirements don’t necessarily deliver on the safety of the flock. The fact that someone is a member or even a tithing member may be an indication of higher commitment, but shouldn’t be seen as litmus credentials. Who hasn’t seen instances of a well disguised wolf in the middle of the sheepfold? A model to follow? Membership status has little or nothing to do with truly being a model to follow. In many cases meeting higher entrance standards only guarantee an insider or member of the usual suspects. See also, Leader Qualification: Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar or Open Bar? and Do You Know About This Game-Changing Connection Secret?
On the flip side, unnecessarily high entry requirements do narrow the field in terms of who is allowed or encouraged to take an initial step toward leadership. In addition, a very serious consequence of recruiting leaders from the core and committed segments of the congregation predetermines that new leaders have little awareness of anyone outside of the most connected. See also, 5 Seriously Wrong Questions about Small Group Ministry and Three Keys to Connecting Beyond the Core and Committed.
Did you miss Small Group Ministry Myth #1? You can read about it right here.
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.