A lot of dynamics come into play when facilitating a small group. Here are six ways you should NOT lead a small group.
By Kelly King
Leading a small group Bible study is an important responsibility. But whether you lead a group on Sunday mornings in your church or meet at a local coffee shop or home, it’s easy to think leading a group isn’t that hard. In reality, there are a lot of dynamics that come into play when facilitating a small group. And while you might see a lot of blogs or instructions on how to lead an effective small group, I want to take a slightly different approach on six ways you should NOT lead a small group. Whether you identify with these or not, you’ve probably experienced these kinds of leadership at one time or another. (Or it may be a good time to look in the mirror and see if you’re guilty of these!)
1. Be late
Everyone is busy. You are busy. I get it. But if you want to show your group you care about them and are considerate of their schedules, begin on time. If you don’t, members won’t show up on time, and you won’t maximize the time you have together.
I still remember hearing my daughter’s all-state choir director say, “If you are 15 minutes early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late.” When you make arriving early a personal priority, you’ll have time to welcome everyone, and you’ll have time to handle any last-minute interruptions or unexpected issues.
2. Be unprepared
The leader who hasn’t taken time to finish his or her personal Bible study and prepare for the group will be obvious to the rest of the group. If you want good participation, and you want to grow in your leadership, spend extra time preparing for your group.“The leader who hasn’t taken time to finish his or her personal Bible study and prepare for the group will be obvious to the rest of the group.” — @kellydking Click To Tweet
Study harder than anyone else. Do the homework. Go the extra mile. Know which questions you want to ask and have a plan for the time you have in discussion. Be prepared with any announcements and plan your prayer time specifically and purposefully.
3. Be insensitive or inflexible
While it’s great to be prepared, there are some leaders who run the group more like a military troop. The insensitive leader comes across as someone who is more interested in completing an agenda than hearing the hearts of those in the group.
The old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is a perfect description of a leader who is sensitive to the needs of the group. If you show inflexibility, you aren’t allowing the Holy Spirit to direct your time together.
4. Talk too much
This kind of leader tends to dominate the entire group. They might ask questions, but they rarely wait for others to answer. If there’s an uncomfortable silence, they impatiently jump in and provide an answer. Instead, as a leader, focus your time on hearing from others.“Good leaders facilitate rather than dominate.” — @kellydking Click To Tweet
If there’s a moment of silence, don’t panic. Someone will likely speak up. If not, consider rephrasing the question or redirecting the question. Always affirm answers and don’t turn the answer back to yourself or what you want to say. Good leaders facilitate rather than dominate.
5. Let the group derail the study
Maybe silence isn’t the problem with your group. Instead, they love to get off subject and chase rabbits. It’s likely you’ll have one person who loves to talk, and they might appear as someone with attention deficit disorder. In these times, be a group leader who keeps the group on track.
Steer the conversation back to the Bible study. Remind them of the time and of the purpose, but also be sensitive if a spiritual crisis comes up. Be ready to stop the group and pray together. In fact, pray at the beginning of your group and be bold enough to pray for good, balanced discussion and spiritual insight into God’s Word.
6. Don’t be involved in the lives of your group
The biggest mistake you can make as a small group leader is to not take the time to get to know the people in your group. Do you know their family members? Do you know their prayer concerns? Do you check on them at other times besides your group time?“The biggest mistake you can make as a small group leader is to not take the time to get to know the people in your group.” — @kellydking Click To Tweet
When you check on members of your small group, you’re communicating that you aren’t just concerned about them learning God’s Word but also with how they’re applying it in their daily lives.
Kelly is the women’s ministry specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources.