The larger a church grows, the easier it is for people to “fall through the cracks.” If only the church staff cares for people, they’ll eventually burn out or at least never be able to meet the needs/expectations of everyone in the congregation. That’s why the role of “Fuel Group Coach” is so important.
As for the role a Fuel Group Coach plays, I like to say, “You’re not a discussion leader, you’re a pastor.” And you might end up being the only connection to a pastor at Velocity a person might know- especially as we grow larger. With that in mind I’d like to share the 3 “Ups” to pastoring the people in your group.
1. Follow Up. A pastor cares about his people. This means he listens to how they’re doing, ready to follow up with whatever he hears. When my son Caleb was younger I’d be downstairs and hear him yelling from the upstairs bathroom, “Daddy help!” Now, I knew he needed help in the bathroom. I could have ignored him, but because I care for my son, I followed up and did something about it. That’s what following up is like. You listen for the ways the people in your group are asking for help and then you follow up and do something about it. Here are some specific ways you can follow up with your people:
They said: Follow up:
“I’m nervous about my job interview next week.” Call/Text and ask how it went.
“We had to visit my grandma in the hospital.” Call/Text to ask how grandma is.
“There was a slight tense feeling in group between couple.” Call and ask how things are going
“My oven broke down.” Can you help them fix their oven?
It’s important to note that as a group leader, you have the right to follow up. You have the right to call/e-mail/text your people as ask how they’re doing. You have the right to ask how you can pray for them.
2. Show Up. When times are good or times are tough, a pastor tries to be there. This can include weddings, funerals, hospital stays, babies, etc. The goal is convey, “I’m present in your life-no matter what’s going on.” And when you do show up somewhere you have one job- just to be there. Don’t feel the pressure to fix the situation or theologically explain the why’s and what if’s of their situation. In any stressful life situation it’s simply nice to know that you have people in your corner who care for you.
Here’s two easy phrases you can use when you show up:
1. I was thinking about you……..
so I decided to stop by for a minute.
so I wanted to give you a call
so I wanted to see how you’re doing.
2. I’m sorry……..
this is hard.
I’m just sorry.
3. Shut Up. A pastor knows that a listening ear is more powerful than a talking mouth. And this point can be applied to leading discussion, or when we’re following up or showing up in the lives of the people from our group.
In Discussion. People seldom leave group thinking about what you had to say. Instead, they leave thinking about what discussion made them think about or what they said during discussion. So, the most powerful discussions are the ones that make people think and get them to talk. If you want a great discussion, ask great questions. My guess is most small group leaders should practice speaking less and asking more questions.
In following/showing up. When I say “shut up”, I’m trying to make the point that you don’t need to feel the pressure to solve people’s problems. The pastor’s greatest tool is his caring presence. It’s not about what you say. It’s about following up and showing up and conveying, “I care for you.”
Know when to call in reinforcements: It’s important to know when something that happens in your group is “above your pay grade.” Really, this is where your Fuel Group manager comes into play. The bottom line is- keep your Fuel Group Manager informed of what’s going on. If someone in your group is in the hospital, let them know. If you have a weird night at group and someone gets upset, let them know. If a need arises in your group, let them know. As you keep your Fuel Group Manager informed about what’s going on in your group, he/she can help the church staff keep a pulse on how people are doing. Also, Fuel Group Managers and church staff may have extra resources to help out if a situation becomes more than a Fuel Group can handle by themselves.