Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Small Groups: Enlisting and Investing in Bible Study Group Leaders

Every Bible study group, whether it is a Sunday School group or another type of small group, needs leaders who can help the teacher focus on ministry.  Those potential leaders are sitting in the group facing the teacher every week! The keys to involving them begin with enlistment and investment. Yet for most small groups, enlisting and investing in Bible study group members is one of the greatest challenges. 

In a previous post I reminded you that The Teacher Can't Do Everything. Understanding this should motivate you to help teachers learn to enlist and invest in group members who will help them expand the ministry of the group.

Here are five simple steps you can teach teachers that can help them learn the art of enlisting and investing:

Step One: Pray and Communicate.
  • Pray: Ask God to help you learn how to communicate the group vision and strategy to those you will be enlisting. Ask God to show your group members who you should talk with.
  • Identify the types of leaders you need based on the size of the group and length of time the group has been together. As I mentioned in the post, The Teacher Can't Do Everything, focus on enlisting at least one more leader.
  • Communicate with group, challenging them to consider why God has placed them in the group. Explain the purpose and strategy for the group and overview the types of leaders needed to help the group remain healthy. Provide response cards for members to indicate the areas of service they believe God desires them to pursue. Please note that, although you are providing response cards, usually members won't step up and volunteer. It is imperative that you have already begun compiling a list of potential leaders.
Step Two: Enlist Leaders.
  • Compile a list of group members based upon God's guidance through prayer and the response cards. 
  • Personally enlist every leader. Be prepared to explain the role for which they are being enlisted and the expectations for that role. Assure the leaders that you will be there to help them learn their roles.
  • Allow time for potential leaders to pray.
  • Follow-up to answer questions and to solicit responses.
Step Three: Train Leaders. 
  • Set aside an initial time to develop plans with the leaders. Use the time to help them understand how to fulfill their new leadership roles.
  • The church should provide periodic training designed specifically for the roles these group leaders are fulfilling. Teachers should be aware of the dates and content of the training.
  • Communicate regularly with leaders. Communication can be via text, email, or phone. It should probably include some meetings periodically as well. The meetings don't have to be long, possibly prior to or following group time. Include updates on group members, prospects and other important information.
Step Four: Build Relationships. 
  • Because Bible study groups are built around relationships, teachers should continue to build relationships with group leaders. 
  • Teachers should spend time with leaders developing personal relationships--getting to know them, praying, eating, guiding, correcting, laughing, celebrating, and empowering them.
Step Five: Let Them Go.
  • Ultimately, the goal of developing group leaders is so that each of them might be able to lead a group one day or to fulfill other leadership roles in the church.
  • Your group becomes an "incubator" for developing leaders that, one day, might be fulfilling key roles within the church or even in a ministry beyond the local church in another part of the world!
As I was writing this post, I thought of a couple in our church. This couple joined the church, became group leaders, then group teachers. After several years God placed a burden in the hearts of this couple to minister to people in another part of our world. Their journey, which began as participants in a Bible study group, ended with them becoming missionaries in another country that is usually closed to the gospel. God has blessed them beyond measure as they have seen countless young lives respond to Christ. Enlisting and investing in them as Bible study group leaders was the catalyst God used to move them to the mission field. We got to participate with God in His work through them!

That is the blessing that comes if we will just teach our teachers the art of enlisting and investing in Bible study group leaders.