Last Sunday I walked through a room filled with elementary small groups. If you were standing next to me scanning the room, you’d see a variety of SGLs leading their few. Some men. Some women. Some younger. Some older. Some are navigating the high-school adventure. Others are enjoying their college years. While others are parents with kids of their own.

Their life stages vary. But their purpose as small group leaders is the same.

They want to do something significant.

Panning that small crowd of groups that day, all appeared engaged with their few in a meaningful way. But if you could tune in closer and watch a little longer, you’d see a striking difference between those groups.

Some are doing the activities. Others are engaged in an adventure.

And there’s a big difference between the two.

To me, it’s the difference between owning and renting. When you rent something, you care for it just enough to avoid investing more than you absolutely have to. It isn’t that you DON’T invest. But what you invest is just enough to get by.

When you own something, you care for it with a long term mindset. You dig deeper and go a little further knowing it will last longer if you do. You make higher quality choices as an owner because you assume you’ll be around long enough to see the payoff.

As a Small Group Leader, we want you to be an owner, not a renter.

In the SGL world . . .

A renter shows up barely on time or maybe just a little late. Your smile isn’t the first thing your few see, but that’s okay. They still get to see you.

An owner arrives early enough to be in place so when their few arrive, they are ready to jump in and start. They’re ready to high-five, fist-bump, or hug their few as they arrive.

A renter glances at the lesson during Large Group time to see what the main point is and the activities. You might have to muddle through some of it but that’s no big deal. It’s not like they’ll notice.

An owner reviews the lesson before they arrive. They don’t attempt to memorize, but they have a good idea of how their activities will flow, know their main points, and know which activities their few will likely connect with the most.

A renter gets through each activity for the purpose of simply completing the activity. Whether or not their few connect with the point is not as important as getting through the lesson.

An owner leads through an activity watching for who is connecting and who is not. They’re working to involve their few in a meaningful way. They explore activities together knowing they have just as much to learn as their kids.

A renter ends the time together with a smile and a wave and off to the next thing on their schedule.

An owner invests a few minutes to write a note to a few of their kids. A simple, hand-written card that hits the mailbox in the middle of the week. A simple way to show up randomly in the lives of their few reminding them they’re loved.

The objective that lies before a Small Group Leader is to pursue a connection with your few. The tools provided for that connection are the activities or lessons and your own personal ingenuity. We think owning is better than renting. Though the differences in approach are small, the pay off is incalculable.

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Gina is the Children’s Pastor at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Gina is driven by the idea of equipping, encouraging & empowering parents for the journey of teaching their kids to love and be loved by Jesus. Based upon her experience as a mom, she identifies with the everyday challenges of parenting. Gina and her husband, Kyle, have three kids, Keegan, Josie and Connor.

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