A Job Description
For Housegroup Leaders
by Paul Hazelden


    Introduction

      Purpose

        This job description for a housegroup leader is intended to be useful, rather than complete or definitive.   The idea is to provide a check-list of the most important areas, to be used when reviewing the housegroup with the church leadership.

         

      Task

        Every group needs to have a task - a purpose for existing.   Why else would you bother to meet?   Housegroups in the church are no exception.   The members must be committed to this task, and find some personal benefit from their involvement.   There are therefore three distinct aspects, all of which need to work: achieving the purpose of the group, working together as a group, and meeting the needs of the individuals within the group.

        Putting these three aspects together, in any group the job of the leader is to equip the individual members so that the group can work together in achieving its common purpose.   What does this mean for a housegroup leader?

        • Individual - the aim is to enable each member of the group to grow to maturity as Christians and as people.   In the jargon, this is called 'discipleship'.
           
        • Group - the aim is to build a group with its own unique identity and style, which works well together and contributes to the wider mission of the church.
           
        • Purpose - the aim of the group is the aim of all Christians: to follow Jesus, to join His mission of bringing the Kingdom of God to a needy world.

         

      Areas of Responsibility

        The primary areas of responsibility for a housegroup leader can be divided up as follows.

        1. The Group - Purpose
          1. Apostle
          2. Prophet
          3. Evangelist
          4. Pastor
          5. Teacher
        2. The Group - Practicalities
          1. Meetings
          2. Culture
        3. Yourself - Leadership
          1. General
          2. Liaison
          3. Mentoring
        4. Yourself - Personal
          1. Growth
          2. Boundaries

       

  1. The Group - Purpose
      1. Your task is to equip the saints for the work of service.   Your aim is to equip them so well that they don't need you any more.   (If you are not convinced about this, try working through the implications of not having it as your aim.)

         

    1. Apostle
      1. In modern language, 'apostle' essentially means 'misssionary'.   It is at the top of the list to remind us that the church - every part of it! - must always be outward looking.

        The apostle is always concerned with the world outside our own little patch.   The apostle aims to build up the people here so they can be a blessing to the needy people elsewhere.

        1. Adopt a missionary (support one missionary or missionary family in depth)
        2. Promote the work of your missionary (explain what they do, why it matters, and what the needs are)
        3. Support general missionary work (be educated about what is happening across the world)
        4. Visit missionaries (use holidays, work breaks where possible)
        5. Go on short term missions (consider doing this as a group activity)
        6. Pray for the world ('Operation World' is an excellent resource here)

         

    2. Prophet
      1. The prophet is someone who is in touch with the heart of God - someone who not only experiences intimacy with God, but can communicate how He feels to other people.   Prophets express their burden in various ways: sometimes through words, sometimes through actions, and sometimes through song.

        1. Learn how to worship together (practice intimacy with God, don't just talk about it)
        2. Keep in touch with what is happening in the world (both local and global)
        3. Pray against poverty, injustice and violence (how does God feel about these things?)
        4. Pray for people who are weak, poor and marginalised (both near and far)
        5. Find some way to express God's heart for these issues and individuals (when I was in prison, you didn't just pray for me)

         

    3. Evangelist
      1. The evangelist is someone who is so taken up with the good news that they are constantly helping other people to understand and believe it.   People need to both hear the gospel and see it worked out in your lives.

        1. Personal, group and church evangelism
        2. Out-reach and in-drag evangelism
        3. Proclaimation and friendship evangelism
        4. Systematic and spontaneous evangelism
        5. Door-to-door evangelism with newsletters, gifts and invitations
        6. Remember, for many people belonging needs to come before believing

         

    4. Pastor
      1. The pastor helps people who are hurting, but the best pastors aim to prevent the problems before they happen: pastoral care should be proactive as well as reactive.

        The group must be responsive when people have needs, without allowing itself to become needs-oriented.   The group must work for everyone, not just those with the greatest needs, or those with the greatest willingness to talk about their needs.

        1. Love (without it you can do nothing)
        2. Availability (people must know they can come to you for help)
        3. Encouragement (everybody needs it)
        4. Visiting (people relate to you differently at home)
        5. Meals (eating together builds bridges)
        6. Admonish (provide the first line of church discipline)
        7. Mediate (conflicts will always arise from time to time)

         

    5. Teacher
      1. The teacher must listen more than they speak.   Teaching does not happen when you say truth - it happens when people hear truth, and understand it well enough to apply it.

        1. Bible study (teach people how to study the Bible for themselves)
        2. Books, magazines and articles (share what has encouraged or been helpful to you)
        3. Christian training and conferences (would any be helpful?)

         

  2. The Group - Practicalities
    1. Meetings
      1. Meetings are not the purpose of group life, but they are are the core of it.   Housegroups will normally have some informal meetings and special events - parties, days out, social events, and the like, but there also needs to be a regular 'normal' meeting which includes the following elements.   You don't need each one each time you meet, but there does need to be a healthy balance between these areas in the medium term.

        1. Prayer (encourage everyone to pray, explore different approaches to prayer)
        2. Teaching (the most important aspect - allow people to ask the questins that really matter to them)
        3. Fellowship (encourage an appropriate level of sharing - both joys and problems)
        4. Worship (does not have to mean singing)

         

    2. Culture
      1. The culture of the group is hard to pin down, but it is more important than your Bible study technique or your skill in worshipping together.   The culture is the set of shared expectations and standards.

        1. Honesty (evangelical Christians are very bad it it, both doctrinal and emotional)
        2. Trust (people have to earn your trust, but you have to give them the chance)
        3. Risk (people need the freedom to take risks, to fail, to be less than perfect)
        4. Courage (are we willing to risk something new?)
        5. Fun (do people enjoy belonging to this group?)

       

  3. Yourself - Leadership
    1. General Leadership
      1. People choose to follow a leader because they see the leader is going somewhere they want to go too, and trust the leader to get them there safely.

        The only type of Christian leadership is servant leadership - you are not there to get your own way, but to serve the members and see that they grow.   It is more to do with speaking on behalf of the group than with giving orders.

        1. Vision (have one and communicate it)
        2. Remember, a vision can grow and be discovered, but it cannot be imposed
        3. Articulate goals and standards (for the members to commit themselves to)
        4. Delegation (don't do it all yourself but ensure it is all done)
        5. Be an example (you are an example, whether you like it or not!)
        6. Use the resources available to you (the Bible, prayer, other church leaders)

         

    2. Liaison
      1. Liaison with other church leaders is a vital aspect of the job.   The housegroup is a part of a larger church.

        1. Pray for the church leaders (ask them what to pray for)
        2. Support the church leaders in public whenever possible
        3. Disagree with the church leaders in private whenever necessary
        4. Church direction (know what it is and go for it)
        5. Communication (especially important from the housegroup back to the church leaders)
        6. Other groups and churches (support them and learn from them, don't try to be like them)

         

    3. Mentor new leaders
      1. The objective of putting yourself out of a job includes the job of housegroup leadership - the leadership of this housegroup, at least.   How else can you move on and keep growing?

        1. Nominate (identify who is ready and willing)
        2. Delegate (set realistic tasks and check they have been done)
        3. Educate (provide feedback on how they did)
        4. Abdicate (when they can take on the responsibility)

         

  4. Yourself - Personal
    1. Growth
      1. The members won't learn from you how to keep growing unless you keep growing.   The following areas are vital for you and them.

        1. Holiness (sin prevents growth)
        2. God's calling (what is God saying?)
        3. Step out in faith (get on and do it)
        4. Spiritual gifts (identify and develop them)
        5. Ability to share your faith (knowledge and practice)
        6. Achieve potential (in every area of life)
        7. Non-spiritual gifts (just as important as the spiritual gifts)

         

    2. Boundaries
      1. You can't help the group if you work yourself into the ground!   You need to establish useful boundaries, to preserve space for all the important areas of your life.

        Useful boundaries are ones that work because you understand both where they are and why.   Strict rules ("I always spend Tuesday night with my family") rarely work, but flexibility must be used to achieve better balance, not to squeeze more activity in.

        You will need to find some form of balance between the following aspects of your life.   If you want or need help finding or maintaining this balance, please ask for it!

        1. Family
        2. Friends
        3. Work
        4. Leisure
        5. Personal growth
        6. Mental and emotional health
        7. Physical health (diet, exercise, rest)
        8. Church

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