Small Group Facilitator or Shepherd?

Thursday 3rd October, 2013


Does what we call a small group leader (or a Sunday School teacher) matter? Or could there be subtle but important issues behind titles that clarify and direct the role? That is the issue behind the question of this blog post. Let's examine and compare the two titles:

  • Facilitator. Facilitate has a root in "making easy." The common intent of the role, facilitator, in a small group context on group Bible study time. The point of a facilitator in that time is to make it easy for everyone to get involved, to facilitate discussion and participation in sharing the biblical stories and group members' stories. The term, however, does not have to be that narrow. Facilitator can also point to the fact that the group leader's role is to make it easy for everyone to get involved in all of the work of the group. Thus, the facilitator's role is NOT to do all the work but to share the load. The work of fellowship, care, outreach, ministry, hosting, Bible study, etc. is best shared among group members. Some work is shared by all and other is focused upon by one or more members, but a shared load is lighter and group members are better developed through serving. The role, however, is a bit more focused on process than on people.
  • Shepherd. The term, shepherd, shifts the focus in a small group context toward the sheep and the Good Shepherd. The shepherd cares for, knows, and leads the sheep. He/she spends time with the sheep and leads the group to deepen relationships and trust. This requires transparency which is not always easy but often necessary in order for personal confession, forgiveness, healing, and growth to take place. Group sessions are less about lesson delivery and more about involvement of, impact upon, and spiritual progress of the group members. Group mission, organization, and activities are tools for aiding personal and group growth. Ultimately a small group shepherd desires to point toward the Good Shepherd, the Owner of the sheep, in every personal and group activity.

What else would you add to these thoughts? Press Comments below and share your ideas. What do you call your small group leaders? What is the reason the title was chosen? What does it communicate? Be intentional. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

For more ideas about small group leaders, check out these blog posts:

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