Authentic Community Begins With Senior Pastors

Small groups
Senior pastor, are you part of a small group?

Senior pastors, you need to know something. If you want authentic community to flourish in your church, it begins with you. It must begin with you.

I don’t know what has prompted your hope for authentic community to take hold in your church. Maybe you’ve listened to Rick Warren or Andy Stanley or Bill Hybels talk about their own personal small groups and how important they’ve been in their own lives. Maybe you’ve come to it through your own insight from Scripture that you can’t do the "one anothers" in rows. (See also "The Real Reason Saddleback Connects So Many in Small Groups" and "Andy Stanley on Creating a Culture That’s All About Circles.")

I don’t know. But I do know this: If you want authentic community to flourish in your church, it begins with you. It must begin with you because the hope that your congregation will experience something different or more than your own experience isn’t anchored in reality. If you want your congregation to experience authentic community, it begins with you. (See also "Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church of Groups" and "5 Things Senior Pastors Need to Know About Small Group Ministry.")

And the question might be: If you’re not in a small group now, how can it begin with you?

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Here are five ideas to help you get started:

1. Start your group as a test drive. You don’t have to begin with a lifetime commitment. It’s OK to start with a toe in the water. “Would you do this six-week study with me (or with us)?” You’ll probably begin to get the hang of it in about week three or four. When you get to about week five, you might actually start looking forward to spending time with your group.

2. Hand-pick the members of your group. It shouldn’t be open to everyone. Hand-selecting your group members will give you (and your spouse) confidence that you can do life together. Choose people you like to spend time with. Choose people who are refreshing to be around. Choose people you already trust. Be prepared to say, “I hope you understand, but our group isn’t an open group. Might be someday, but not right now.”

3. You don’t have to lead your group. When you include the right members, the group doesn’t need to meet at your house and you won’t need to facilitate the meetings or provide all the snacks. Your group meetings can be all about building relationships and experiencing authentic community.

4. Choose the best possible time for you and your family. Your group can also meet with the frequency that works for you. You know the rhythm of your life. Choose a meeting time that makes sense for you. The right members will accommodate your situation. Note: Frequency is an important ingredient of authentic community. The more frequently you meet, the easier it becomes to reconnect.

5. Choose a study that requires no preparation. It shouldn’t be work or one more thing to get done. Choosing a simple “show up” study makes it easy to focus on relationships.

Mark Howell is the founder of, 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. You can read Mark’s blog at or follow him on Twitter.

For the original article, visit

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Dr. Mark Rutland's

National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)

The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!

FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.

Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.

The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.

Charisma Leader — Serving and empowering church leaders