I recently met a Bible study group leader named Travis. He is a new group leader at his church (he’s been leading a Bible study group for about one year). During the course of our conversation, we talked about his group and the importance of having a pool of leaders within the group that would come alongside him. I also am a group leader at my church, and I launched my group about 18 months ago; we, like Travis’ group, need men and women to step up and take on some of the ministries and functions of the group. We both need a larger pool of leaders within our own groups.
As Travis and I engaged in conversation, he said that before he had a pool of leaders, he would need to start with a puddle. He had great insight into the process of encouraging others to lead! We start with a puddle of people who will help, and add others to the leadership team of the group over time. I am reminded of the story of Moses and Jethro in Exodus 18, and of the early church in Acts 6. In both stories, puddles of leaders turned into pools of leaders who came alongside the existing leaders to help.
Maybe your Bible study group already has a large pool of leaders who are helping you lead the group. Perhaps you, like Travis and I, need others to come alongside us now and take the group’s ministry to the next level. Here are 4 ways you can begin to turn a puddle of leaders into a pool of leaders:
1. Pray. When the Lord looked out over a wheat field that was ready to be harvested, he told his disciples that His kingdom was like that field…people were ready to be “harvested” and gathered into His heavenly family, but more workers were needed. Jesus’ solution wasn’t for them to work longer hours or to place want ads in local synogogues. Jesus told his disciples to pray that His Father would provide the additional help they needed. The Greek word translated “pray” is the word deomai, and it means to ask or beg because of a lack or a need. Does that sound like the way you pray for help in your group? If not, begin asking God to provide other leaders from within your group to help you lead and advance His kingdom. Start with prayer.
2. Present. Once you have prayed and feel the Lord’s leadership toward a particular person in your group, ask for an appointment and present them with a specific opportunity to serve you, the group, and the Lord. Present a short list of key tasks they would be responsible for accomplishing, and present your vision for how that role will make a difference to the group. For instance, if you need to recruit someone to take roll, you should consider casting a vision for the position like this: “This role is much more than simply checking attendance. The person will be a data specialist for the group and will help us accurately know who is missing each week so that we can reach out to them; no one likes to feel like they are invisible, and in this role, you will help us close ‘the back door’ of our group so that people feel valued and missed when they are not in one of our group’s Bible studies.”
3. Practice. To increase the number of leaders within your group, allow them to “practice” the skill you want them to have. If you need an apprentice group leader, regularly give a person (or persons) the opportunity to lead the group Bible study. They will gain confidence as they prepare and lead the group, and this kind of “practice” prepares them to step up and accept a formal invitation from you to be a permanent member of your group’s leadership team. The same goes for other functions within the group: care group leader, mission project leader, host or hostess, etc. Giving people short assignments and assessing how they perform will help them know if they are right for a particular task you want them to accomplish on a regular basis.
4. Provide. As group members accept new responsibilities, provide feedback. Think like a coach. Call attention to the things they did right, and to anything that could be improved upon. Provide resources they will need to accomplish their work, and be sure to provide encouragement as they begin leading.
A pool is simply a large puddle. Start small and add leaders to your team consistently, and over time you’ll watch that puddle turn into a larger pool full of men and women who will become partners in your ministry to your Bible study group.