What would you define as a “competent” Growth Group leader?

Richard Sweatman and I have recorded a series of PodCasts about the elements of a competent Growth Group leader. Together I think these five aspects set a really good foundation for church leaders who appoint Growth Group leaders, as well as for current Growth Group leaders who want to think about how to grow themselves.

This is really all just Richard’s material, that I get him talking about, and throw in my two-cents (when I have any).

The 5 core competencies of GG leading

Competency 1: Character

Competency 2: Knowledge of God

Core Competency 3: Teaching

Core competency 4: Encouragement

Competency 5: Team Leadership

What type of “why” are you chasing?

There are two ways you can answer the question “why?” There’s the cause and the function. The motivation and the outcome. The purpose and the result. They are both right answers to the question “why?”. Both need to be addressed. Both need to be answered.

For example… Why should bible teachers be regular bible readers themselves?

The functional reasons are important… so they keep learning, so they keep being humbled, so they understand better, so they can be a model and an example, and so on.

But the causal reasons are also important… because God has spoken and he’s worthy of our attention, because God is their father who speaks for their good, because the word God speaks is lovely to hear.

Both are right aren’t they? But what happens if you focus on one?

Debunking the need to preach a book all at once

There seems to be an idea that exegetical preaching means more than simply walking through a book with your congregation. Somewhere along the line, we started to think that you had to do that entire walk in the space of a school term – 10 or 11 weeks.

And that works semi-ok for some books; Colossians, Philippians, Ephesians, etc. And it works ok for some sections of the gospels or other narratives; Gen 1-11, Exo 1-12, Mark 1-8, Rev 1-7, etc.

But the reality is that these these two ideas “preaching thru a book well” and “only doing a book for a limited number of weeks” have two very different intentions, and they end up hurting each other. On one hand, there’s so much in Colossians, Ephesians and others that breaking them up into 10 parts STILL glosses over heaps of really amazing ideas. 10 weeks still isn’t long enough for these books. On the other hand, apart from the Pastoral Epistles, you’re still going to break up a book to preach it in 10 weeks. Preaching Mark 1-8 is not preaching Mark.

Here’s two things we’ve started:

  1. Preach slowly through a book over years. We’ve started Romans a few years ago, just working through a few verses every term 2. If we had our time again, I reckon we’d move through it even slower.
  2. Give your less-often preachers a book/series that they can do over years, a few weeks at a time. I’ve been working through Acts 4 weeks at a time. When else would you get to take your congregation through Acts??
    The other value of this is that it makes each of your staff an “expert” in a book. It deepens the exegetical scholarship of your staff team.

When is it ok to NOT read the bible?

Ok, shaky ground here. I’m just throwing around ideas – might change my mind tomorrow… who knows.

If you’re in Christian leadership, and you’re part of a small team, you’ll want to be reading the bible with everyone you meet. That’s a really important thing; it models sola scripture and the philosophy of biblical ministry.

But if you’re part of a large team, and there’s a good culture of bible reading in your ministry, do you need to – as much?

Say you catch up with one of the guys who’s helping with youth group. He’s in a Growth Group, the Youth Pastor’s meeting up with him 1:1, he’s regular at church, etc… I’m not sure that cramming in 30mins of bible time is going to be that effective.

Especially if you’re going to ask him to take on an extra responsibility from your plate. If you’re going to delegate, that takes LOTS of time, lots of conversations, lots of back and forth. (S2 – S3 Leadership Styles)

Don’t NEVER open the bible. A pastor’s heart will always end up taking people back to the scriptures, so expect to land there. But don’t get too caught up in having to do it all the time, if they already are.

1 to 1 the best training for preaching

Keen to do FT ministry? Want to become a great preacher? Want to see 100s, nay, 1000s of people saved? Great! Do 1 to 1 ministry.


It helps you to develop trust for God working through his word to change people.

It helps you understand how – so often – people don’t understand the bible when they read it.

It helps keep you humble as you see how people don’t change just because you tell them to.

It helps you understand the bible really really really really really really really really well as you think about teaching people in other ways – like preaching.

Of course, this is assuming you read the bible with people when you do 1 to 1. So do that.

Try teaching the opposite

How do you get people to wrestle with the Bible, not just nod their head without thinking?

One way is to show them they assume the opposite. Lead them down the path of thinking A only to show them God says B.

For example, if they were a shepherd and they lost one sheep, would they really “leave the 99 in the open field” (vulnerable to lions and bears) to find one sheep… One sheep that’s probably already dead, or will turn up soon on its own anyway!?! People don’t go looking for lost coins!! They don’t celebrate when their fortune-wasting son returns!!!

Once people realise they don’t actually agree with the assumptions in the bible, that’s when REAL thinking and character development take place.

Before you teach your next thing, ask yourself whether you need to show people they don’t actually believe it.