“The Leader” vs. “Providing Leadership”

One of the things that commonly prevents fellowships, home groups, and churches from forming is the issue of who is going to be the leader. Several scenarios are typical. A natural leader arises from a group and assumes responsibility for moving it along. Sometimes this works, if the leader is a kind and sensitive person who respects the opinions of others. Sometimes it doesn’t work because the leader thinks that his or her ideas are best and has a persuasive personality that overwhelms other voices. In these cases the group often fizzles as one by one people drop out because they don’t feel that the group reflects their opinions, values, and interests.

Another thing that happens is that the group never gets off the ground because no one is willing to assume the position of “leader” for any number of reasons. Some that we have seen are:

  • They don’t feel competent
  • They don’t want to be criticized
  • They don’t like people in leadership positions because they have been abused
  • They don’t want anyone holding them accountable or confronting them

One way we can get around this problem is to change the way we think of leadership. Instead of thinking of it as a position, we can think of it as providing a service or assisting a process. From this perspective, to provide leadership is to do what it takes to help the group get started, develop a personality, a purpose, and a plan of accomplishment. The goal of providing such leadership would be to help the group get established, create enough structure to be viable, and help the group answer the obvious questions: Why do we want to start a group?; Who should be invited?; When should we meet?; Where should we meet?; What should we do when we get together?

This kind of leadership is more like “facilitation,” a fancy word that basically means, “to make easier.” A facilitator makes it easier for a group to come to an agreement about the important issues by keeping the group focused, making sure all voices are heard, and helping to resolve disagreements. The decisions made are not the facilitator’s, but the group’s, and the group is more likely to own the decisions that are made in this way.

Are you in an area that has a group of people who need a little help coming together to make the decision to start a Christian growth group, a prayer group, a Bible study, or any other kind of fellowship? Instead of waiting on someone else to “be the leader,” consider stepping up and becoming the one who “provides leadership” to get your group going.

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