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Whether you use a low or high bar of small group leadership, I think all of us have hope that our leaders will do more than open their home, facilitate a discussion or convene a meeting.

And I think some of us have begun laying the foundation for a kind of leadership pathway. (See also "Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar" and "Steve Gladen on Saddleback’s Leadership Pathway.")

Not long ago, I noticed a post on Thom Rainer’s blog titled "8 Commitments for Bible Study Leaders." As usual, it was very well thought out and extremely helpful, but it seemed to be primarily focused on the role of a Bible study teacher. Important, but not targeted to the small group leaders many of us are identifying, recruiting and developing.

Here are the eight commitments I’d like my small group leaders to make:

1. I will make my daily, living connection with Jesus Christ a priority—being in community with Him is the foundation for all community. How will a new leader know what this means? It will have to modeled by a coach or mentor. Remember, whatever you want to happen at the member level will have to be experienced by the leader first.

2. I will lead an exemplary Christian lifestyle—group members watching me will see an obedient servant of Jesus Christ growing in maturity. How will this happen? The expectation that this will happen outside of ministry leadership modeling servant leadership is pure fantasy.

3. I will convene my group regularly (2 to 4 times a month). For members of a group to truly experience what it means to have a sense of family, to grow spiritually and to have impact, being together will be the norm. (See also "The End in Mind for My Ideal Small Group.")

4. I will provide personalized care and development for each of my members, using the Spiritual Health Assessment and Spiritual Health Planner. A level of intentionality will pervade the experience.

5. I will assist in the identification and development of potential small group leaders within my group. This doesn’t just happen—at least very often. It must be modeled. It must be built into the culture.

6. I will maintain great communication with the community life team. We are stronger together. We work better as a team. Everyone benefits when small group leaders acknowledge their role in the larger community.

7. I will gather with the other small group leaders in my coaching huddle for training and encouragement. We all need to pay attention to the examples of the leaders just ahead of us. We also need to meet the needs of the leaders just behind us. Although it is countercultural, we need each other, and we are in this together.

8. I will attend scheduled gatherings for training and encouragement. Again, we are all part of a larger community. We weren’t made to stand alone. We were made to do this together.

Here’s the key: If you want your small group leaders to do more than open their home, facilitate a discussion or convene a meeting, you need to implement a leadership pathway, and a very early step is to introduce a set of commitments.

Feel free to take these commitments and adapt them to fit your context. I’ve been using these basic ideas for so long, I can’t remember exactly where I stole them from.

Two additional resources that will help you develop your own commitments are Steve Gladen’s Small Groups With Purpose and Bill Donahue’s Leading Life-Changing Small Groups.  I highly recommend them.

Mark Howell is the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, which is committed to helping churches launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He's also the pastor of discipleship communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church. Having served as small group pastor at Woodlands Church and Lake Avenue Church, Mark is a seasoned veteran with experience in both the contemporary and the traditional church. In addition, he served as a consultant with Lifetogether and as a host for the Purpose Driven Campaign Coaching programs. You can read Mark's blog at www.markhowelllive.com or follow him on Twitter.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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