I want you to meet a good guy who has helped me think through some ministry strategy more than once. I’m grateful for other leaders like Ben who are growing and sharing what they learn.
Ben Reed is the small groups pastor at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, TN, a 6 year old, multi-site church plant averaging 2,500 in weekly attendance. He’s found his niche in raising up and building into small group leaders, creating small groups that help people take steps of faith together. He’s also found a passion in writing, and he writes 4-5 times/week on his blog addressing topics such as small groups, leadership, church growth, and social media. Ben and his wife have a 3-year-old son, Rex.
1) So Ben, as a small groups pastor, what is your primary role?
I oversee recruiting, coaching, training existing and potential group leaders, and set the direction for our groups. We’re a small groups-driven church, which means that we filter everything through groups.
2) What’s the most overwhelming part of your job and what excites you most?
I’m overwhelmed by our constant need for new leaders. We always seem to need more than we have. Which points to a great problem: we’re growing. But I get overwhelmed if I dwell too much on how many new leaders we need.
Which means I need to constantly remind myself of how God uses biblical community to change lives. Connecting people in this community is what really energizes me, especially when I can connect previously unconnected people and see them begin growing in their faith.
3) You mention on your blog “About” page that you are enjoying a dream job. What are some of the things about Grace Community Church that make it a great place for you and your family?
I serve on an amazing team. We support one another and believe in one another. We really work together well, and our ministries function in sync, where we’re not fighting against each other, but working together to reach the most people.
I really like the guys I get to work with.
From a dad’s viewpoint, I love our family ministry. I love that there are other adults that are investing in my son’s spiritual growth, and that week after week, they’re pointing him to Jesus.
I tell people often that Grace is a church that I would worship with, even if I weren’t on staff. Which is a statement that, unfortunately, not everyone on a church staff could honestly make.
4) You work alongside many gifted leaders. What are you doing to further develop your own leadership?
Learning from them! I pick their brains a lot. I’ve already bragged on my team, and I’ll do it again. These guys are phenomenal! I feel fully confident bringing my questions and concerns to them, both professionally and personally, and trusting that they’re going to point me in the right direction.
Also, I’m a “learner.” I’m constantly engaging other ideas and thought processes through books, blogs, sermons, conferences, and meetings. I enjoy learning new things and taking on new challenges.
5) Who are the biggest influences in your life right now?
My dad. I go to him more than any other person, with myriads of questions. My dad is by far the greatest influence in my life right now.
Ron Edmondson is also a massive influence in my life right now. He’s my pastor, my direct report, and my friend. He and I have a good relationship, and I’m learning from him. I love the direction he’s headed, and is heading, in ministry, and he’s become a strong mentor in my life.
6) You stay extremely busy leading a large, growing ministry. What are you doing to ensure your family loves your ministry?
I try, as much as possible, to leave work at work. When I come home for the day, I try to not constantly check emails. It’s hard, because much of what I do involves dealing with people in crisis. But I have to remind myself that I can’t immediately fix everything. But I can be there for my family.
I also involve my wife in my decision-making. I run things by her, get her thoughts, and help her be a part of the ministry. Not because I have to…but because I really value her input.
We also lead a small group together, which is a constant reminder of our own need for community…and others’ need for it as well.
7) As a rising voice in the evangelical small group conversation, what excites you most about what you see in small group ministry? What worries you?
I love how small groups give potential leaders the chance to begin leading. Since you don’t have to be a fully mature follower of Christ, and don’t have to be a Bible scholar, the bar is lowered for beginning leaders. And I love that…I love that I can take risks on unproven new leaders, and give them a chance to cut their teeth, discover their spiritual gifts, and receive the blessings that come from doing what God’s calling you to do.
For too long, the church held up the gift of teaching as one of a very few number of gifts that the Church really valued and used. Small groups give people with gifts other than teaching the chance to flesh those gifts out.
But I am worried about biblical literacy. My fear is that we’d so lower the bar that we begin to devalue real study of the Scriptures. The Church still needs scholars…I hope that small groups don’t snuff that out.
8) Most of us enter ministry for changed lives. Along the way, it’s easy to get sidetracked and pursue personal success. As a young, talented leader with many opportunities, how do you guard against the appeal to pursue success over what originally drew you to ministry?
It’s all about relationships for me. I meet with small group leaders at Grace a lot. Whether that’s over a cup of coffee, over lunch, or just at the church offices. Hearing real stories from real people, offering real encouragement, helps keep me grounded. It reminds me that small groups really are working and really are needed.
I enjoy organizational systems, and exploring how we, as a church, can do what we do more efficiently. But if I remove myself too far from people and relationships, I’ll burn out, and begin wondering if small groups really work.
9) You’re an insightful blogger. How do you personally maintain energy and creativity for your blog?
I constantly jot down ideas. I use Evernote primarily. When I have a thought, or something I’d like to explore further, I jot it down. When I have a, “Hmm…that could be a good blog post…” thought, I capture that in Evernote.
Then, when I’m ready to write, I sit down in front of my computer and I have dozens of ideas to choose from. I’m never short on new blog post ideas.
I also read a lot, which keeps me fresh, and producing (hopefully) new and engaging content.
10) In addition to what you’re already doing, do you have a crazy dream that you hope to pursue some day?
It’s probably not crazy to a lot of people, but for me it is: I want to write a book. I’m working on ideas now.