So much group training and so little time…
Just about every week I get a call from someone overseeing small Bible study groups at his or her church. Usually it is the same type of question: “How do I equip our leaders without demanding even more of their time?”
I get it. I oversee the training of small group leaders at the church where I serve. These leaders are faithful brothers and sisters working hard each week to prepare for the study, follow up with struggling individuals in their groups, work with co-leaders… oh, and actually lead the group.
My first response is also usually the same question: “Are you working with current leaders or trying to train new ones?”
“Yes—both!” is generally the answer. I give a sympathetic sigh…
Train and onramp new leaders. Continue to equip and support current leaders. So much to do and so little time…
Whether you are a pastor overseeing leaders or a small group leader trying to help yourself and your co-leaders, I want to help you make the most of the finite time and energy you have. We have a number of really helpful leadership resources here at Matthias Media, but the issue is often more than just needing resources; it is when and how to use them.
Below is a brief summary of how I use (and thus recommend) the different small group resources we have available, so you know which to reach for when.
Being a Small Group Leader
This is a short and punchy book to put into the hands of potential leaders to ground them in the basic characteristics, convictions and competencies needed for the role. That said, I also gave copies of this to all our seasoned leaders a few years back because it is a wonderful biblical refresher of their privileged post. Even a slow reader can get through it in a week or less.
The Small Group and the Vine
This course includes video content and is the quick-start approach for new leaders (only five sessions long). Still, we again decided to run all of our current leaders through the course so we were sharing the same language about small groups and our roles as leaders. This is critical first-principles training rather than a how-to course. At our church we schedule seven sessions: five weeks for the course and then two weeks working through the appendices of the workbook, as they provoke great discussions around some of the practicalities.
In an ideal world, all of our leaders would work through this resource as a course: ten weeks of training on the basics needed to be a leader and do the actual leading. In the course, each person takes a turn leading a study for the rest of the group so as to get feedback. This is invaluable—but also daunting and time-consuming. Don’t give up on figuring out how to give people feedback on their Bible study leading, but understand that it may not be possible to find the space to do it in the suggested way of this course. One approach we’ve used instead is giving a copy of Growth Groups to each potential leader, asking them to read it as a book, and then gathering in groups of three or four to discuss each of the ten topics. (Print copies will be back in stock later this year—looking better than ever!)
However you manage your personal time and/or the time of those you lead with, don’t let the urgent crowd out the best or the amount of “I shoulds” overwhelm you into doing nothing. Keep growing in your character, conviction and competencies as a small group leader (and trainer!) by committing yourself to an area of growth in the upcoming year.
As with all of our resources, feel free to email or call with any questions on the specifics, or to hear more training ideas we’ve accumulated ourselves or from others. We are here as your partner in this great work of labouring for the glory of the Lord in all the world and, in this case, in the lives of all your small groups.