Facilitate and Lead
Each vocation has its dialogues behind the scenes that the ordinary person would find arcane. The topic of what to call the person who “leads” a small group is one of those.
Is he/she a small group leader? A facilitator? A shepherd?
As Andy Stanley has said, there are some tensions that will always be. You cannot resolve them, or it would be like cutting your thumb off. This is one of them. Both facilitation and leadership are needed. It’s not that the language we use is unimportant. Words create new worlds. So we call small group leaders to facilitate conversation around life and the biblical text while also giving them authority to lead their group (and lead others to take responsibility for areas).
As facilitator, this person:
- Prepares weekly for the conversation by going through the curriculum, assessing the questions it provides, and editing them to fit their group.
- Learns how to ask open-ended questions.
- Is okay with silence.
- Helps integrate each person into the discussion without shaming talkers or quiet ones.
As leader, this person:
- Calls fouls if the conversation turns into gossip or other sinful chatter.
- Pays attention to where the group is at spiritually.
- Gives authority to others in the group to be in charge of things like snacks, fun events, prayer, service projects, etc.
- Is the contact person for the pastor and attends training events and coaching conversations.
Both matter. To the right are posts dealing with various issues of facilitation and leadership.