Do you happen to remember the 1980’s skit from Saturday Night Live featuring two “weightlifters” named Hans and Franz? I can remember laughing at their crazy antics, flawed thinking, and their classic line, “Hear me now and believe me later.” I’d like to borrow that line for this blog post and ask you to hear me now and believe me later with regard to ongoing training of your Bible study group leaders. In my experience, too many churches no longer have an ongoing plan for training their volunteer leaders, but if they did, they might notice some unintended consequences. Here are a three unintended consequences of having regular training:
- A sense of family develops. When volunteer leaders go without ongoing training, they operate in silos. They see each other across the hallway at the church as they enter their classrooms and get ready to teach, but they don’t have a tie that binds. If, however, they were together for regular, ongoing training, they would begin to know one another more deeply and would develop a sense of “family.” Proximity creates the opportunity for people to share stories about their groups, seek help from fellow leaders, or act as a mentor to someone who hasn’t been leading a group quite as long as they have. It has been proven that a sense of belonging and a feeling of family is helpful in reducing the turnover in any organization.
- Respect for the leader grows. If you are the person responsible for providing the training for your church’s Bible study leaders, by taking the helm and giving them good, effective training you will gain their respect and trust. They will view you as a person who cares about their ongoing growth and development, you’ll be thought of as someone who is “in it with them,” and they’ll view you as the subject matter expert in the area of training.
- Growth is experienced. The quality of a Bible study has a direct impact on the growth of the organization. Poor teaching = poor attendance, but the opposite is also true: good teaching = growth in attendance. In a survey of growing churches, 87% rated their Sunday School (your church may call it something else) as excellent as compared to only 56% in churches that are plateaued or declining. That’s some pretty overwhelming evidence! The Georgia Baptist Convention conducted a survey of over 2000 churches and found that when ongoing training was conducted, Sunday Schools had a an average growth rate of 13+ percent! What about churches that had no ongoing training? They declined an average of 2% per year.
Hear me now and believe me later…ongoing training makes a difference and there are some wonderful unintended consequences for you and your church. Who should you talk with on your church staff to make this happen?
You don’t have to meet every week…perhaps by starting with an annual event, then growing into a quarterly training habit, and ultimately once-a-month training will help you and your fellow leaders in ways you can’t even imagine. The key is, do something!