The Ministry of a Co-Leader

February 19, 2007 | Comments Off on The Ministry of a Co-Leader

Kathleen wrote,

I am wondering what you think about co-leading a small group. Is it wise to have two leaders, or is better to have one person? As we are forming our small groups, we are trying to decide if two are better than one, or if the conflicts in personality might be more trouble than they are worth. Thoughts?

Thanks for writing, Kathleen. That’s a great question. I’m a firm believer in co-leaders, or assistant leaders. I always make it a practice to work with a co-leader if I have a choice. A co-leader can either serve as an assistant to you or as one who actually shares the load almost equally. How you decide this will depend on your own skills, interests, and available time, as well as those of your co-leader. The key is to be sure that you’ve communicated clearly and that both of you agree on what each will do.

There are several reasons why I favor co-leaders:

  • A co-leader can provide you with a perspective that you might miss working alone. Leading a group can take a lot of attention to stay on track. A co-leader can pick up on needs through comments or body language that may fly right by you are you’re focused on other issues. A co-leader is essential if you have a mixed group, in which case the co-leader should be of the opposite sex of the leader.
  • A co-leader can monitor your timing, signaling you when it’s time to cut off the study and move on to prayer requests and prayer. Sometimes when I’m in the midst of leading a good study, I forget all about the time. I need a good co-leader to wave her arms at me and insist that we simply must stop.
  • A co-leader can fill in awkward gaps or rephrase a question when necessary. This is especially important early in the life of a group when people may still be reluctant to answer. The co-leader can also help you set the pace for openness and vulnerability, which in turn leads to deeper growth.
  • A co-leader can relieve you of much of the responsibility for follow-up and other personal contact with members of the group. Note that I said “much,” not “all.” You’ll still need to make some phone calls and stay in touch. But your co-leader can take the bulk of that responsibility if you prefer.
  • Your co-leader can take over if you’re sick, out of town, or can’t attend for any other reason. Your group will flounder much less if they know that someone is still in charge, even when you aren’t there.
  • And most important, this year’s co-leader is next year’s leader.A I’m a firm believer in always having leaders “in training.” Wouldn’t your life be a bit calmer right now if you had been able to co-lead for a year before taking on your own group? Co-leading is where many people gain the confidence to become leaders.

Don’t be threatened by an excellent co-leader. Be grateful. Share as much of the leadership as possible with that person. Encourage her to branch out and lead a new group next year. The church never has enough people who are willing to be leaders. There will never be more leaders than there are Bible studies to go around, so you need not fear for your position. Simply divide and multiply!

Tomorrow we’ll talk about what to look for in a co-leader.

Light is the task where many share in the toil. Homer

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