When I enlist leaders for new groups, I look for one key trait: a teachable spirit.
The value of any teacher, whether he or she has never led a group or has been leading groups for 50 years, is his or her desire to learn — and keep learning. Unfortunately, too many leaders assume they know exactly how to lead a group, and that assumption is based on how someone once led them. Too often, bad teaching skills are simply passed down through the years.
But even for those among who do know how to facilitate a group, it’s wise to keep learning. The message of Scripture never changes, but methodologies do. Different generations process knowledge and interact with one another in different ways. Culture has an impact on the teaching-learning process, so there is great value in continually looking for ways to improve. And if our desire is to honor Christ through our groups, wouldn’t that include a desire to give Him our very best?
Let me suggest three ways you can invest in your group members by becoming a better leader.
1. Seek out opportunities for self-study.
Pick up a book and read it! Many books are available on creative teaching, facilitating a group, and leading effective Bible study groups. A set of books I have found especially helpful over the years are written (or co-authored) by Sunday School Leader and Trainer David Francis. Each book is intensely practical. Although short (48 pages), each book is not one to breeze through. Read a chapter, mull it over, and consider ways to apply it to your leadership.
2. Plan your lessons with other group leaders.
If your group is a part of a planned, strategic discipleship strategy in your church (and I sincerely hope it is), consider getting with other group leaders to plan. When the leaders are studying the same book or using the same curriculum, they can come together and share ideas. Some churches do this weekly; some do it monthly. I can immediately call to mind specific stories of how my group study was enriched because of planning beforehand with others. On some occasions, I have walked into the planning meeting with a solid plan in place, but as we discussed ideas for leading, I left with an even stronger plan. On other occasions, I struggled with how I would approach a certain issue or part of my plan. As I shared my concern and we discussed it, I left the meeting with a great solution.
3. Attend leadership training and conferences.
Check around for Bible study training occurring in your area. Some denominations (Southern Baptists, for example) offer training events on a state and local level. These conferences are led by experienced practitioners and offer great tips for working with different age groups, developing a creative study, facilitating a discussion, and on and on. There are many online training opportunties available now as well. One benefit I particularly enjoy is interacting with leaders from different churches. We learn from each other.
Leading your group has kingdom impact. It is significant! That reason alone should be the impetus for doing what you can to continually hone your skills as a group leader. Take advantage of the opportunities before you.