5 Steps to Developing a Secondary Leader

The first step toward launching a new group for new people is identifying someone in your group to be a secondary leader or apprentice. This will be someone who is developing into a mature believer and is showing signs of taking ownership in the group. He may not recognize the leadership potential in himself yet, so you will need to affirm those gifts you see.

I use these five steps to develop secondary leaders in my groups

Step 1: I do. You watch. We talk. 

After I have approached my potential secondary leader and asked him to pray about taking more ownership in the group, I will encourage him to watch how I facilitate the next group meeting. We then arrange time (possibly after the meeting) to connect and talk about his observations. This begins the process of modeling what I want him to do.

Step 2: I do. You help. We talk. 

If my potential secondary leader is ready to move on, I ask him to facilitate a portion of the discussion at the next group meeting. I give him the questions several days ahead of time so he can be prepared to navigate through the transitions and potential answers. We again meet afterward to discuss the experience and next steps.

Step 3: You do. I help. We talk. 

The next step for my secondary leader is to facilitate a majority of the discussion while I help where needed. I may still lead through the prayer time at this stage until he is comfortable handling it himself. We again meet afterward to discuss the experience. If this step goes well, he should be ready to own the next one.

Step 4: You do. I watch. We talk.

It is now time for my secondary leader to facilitate the entire group experience while I observe as a participant in the group. This can be a difficult experience for me as a leader because that secondary leader will probably lead differently than I would. That’s okay and, in fact, it’s healthy. It’s now time to turn over the reins and begin the process with someone new.

Step 5: You do. Someone else watches. 

This process will eventually lead to birthing a new group. The secondary leader can either step out of the current group to lead a new group for new people, or I can turn the leadership of the current group over to him as I step out to launch the new group. The latter scenario can set the secondary leader up for success quicker. He is already comfortable with the current group, and I will be more prepared than him to start over.

This process will eventually lead to birthing a new group. The secondary leader can either step out of the current group to lead a new group for new people, or I can turn the leadership of the current group over to him as I step out to launch the new group. The latter scenario can set the secondary leader up for success quicker. He is already comfortable with the current group, and I will be more prepared than him to start over.

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About the author

Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with more than twenty years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Teams at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN., and Seacoast Church in Charleston, S.C., prior to becoming the Discipleship and Small Groups Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources. He is the author of Small Groups for the Rest of Us and the just released, Leading Small Groups: How to Gather, Launch, Lead, and Multiply Your Small Group.