We all need community. In fact, we were designed by God to be in community. You can see it modeled for us with the perfect relationship of the Trinity in Genesis.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” – Genesis 1:26
And then prayed for by Jesus with His final prayer before His death on the cross:
May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. – John 17:21
So why do so many pastors try to go it alone? Most of us believe we need smaller groups in our churches for people to do life together, but so many of us are not in one ourselves. There are a lot of excuses why you can’t be in a group, but here are four strong reasons why you should be.
1. Pastoring is a lonely world.
A pastor is constantly pouring himself out to other people. With weekly sermons, counseling appointments, hospital visits, drop-ins in the office and impromptu stops in the grocery aisle, a pastor is almost always in “on” mode for the congregation. If you are not allowing others to speak into your life, you’ll eventually have nothing left to give. And poor decisions happen when we are the most spent out.
2. We all need accountability.
I am not just speaking to moral accountability, although that is important. We also need to be held accountable for being a better spouse, a better parent, and a better friend. We need accountability to study Scripture outside of our weekly sermon study. Iron sharpens iron, and we become dull without a community to hold us to our commitments. Spiritual willpower is overrated and weak.
3. Your church needs a model.
If the pastor is not a part of a small group, it’s likely that most of the congregation will not be as well. If your desire as a pastor is to see your congregation growing spiritually and being discipled in community, you will have to lead the way. Statistically, a church can expect less than 40 percent of the adult attenders to be in small groups if the pastor is not the champion of groups. That percentage can jump to 70+ with the senior leader modeling group life. That doesn’t mean you have to lead a group, just be a member and tell the stories to your congregation.
4. Growing leaders grow leaders.
Every church needs more leaders. I have not communicated with a single church leader who felt like they were good with the number of current leaders in their church. The question is always, “Where can we find more leaders?” The answer is pretty straightforward—new leaders have to be developed. Your church is full of potential leaders who just need someone to walk alongside them for a season. Yet, this will never happen if the pastors and staff are not growing. Every leader in your church should be in a smaller group making disciples who make disciples, and that has to start with the senior leader. Ask yourself, who am I personally discipling right now?
Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with over 22 years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Team at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, and was on staff at Seacoast Church in Charleston, SC, for 15 years. He is also the Small Group Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources. Chris’s first book, Small Groups For The Rest Of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes, was just released by Thomas Nelson. You can follow his blog at chrissurratt.com or follow him on Twitter @chrissurratt.