Snoopervise your Bible Study Groups

The term “snoopervising” or “snoopervision” can be viewed as negative words. These tend to refer to spying tactics used Investigateto gain information about employees in the workplace, but let’s put a more positive spin on the terms. Too many group leaders are “unsnoopervised” or “undersnoopervized,” and church staff don’t really know what’s taking place in their groups when they meet. Perhaps you are responsible for supervising Bible study leaders on behalf of your church. Can you say with confidence that you know how the Bible is being taught in your groups? Do you know what the group members really think about the teaching taking place? What are the real group dynamics? Most people will struggle to find an answer to this question…they simply do not know what is taking place during group Bible studies! Here are three ideas for becoming a better “snoopervisor.”

1.  PARTICIPATE – you should regularly evaluate the teaching taking place in any groups under your leadership. The best way to evaluate a group leader and the group dynamics? Participate in a study with the group!  Jot down your observations during the study…what worked? what didn’t work? were the questions asked by the group leader relevant? how many learning methods did the group leader use to engage his people in the Bible study? Did people like the study? Where they fully engaged? What mistakes were made by the group leader? What did he do that the group really liked?

2.  EVALUATE – After taking part in a group’s Bible study, and after taking time to review and evaluate the experience, it’s time to meet with the group leader. Let the coaching begin!  Share with him the things he did well, the things that didn’t go so well, and things that could be improved. Evaluating the experience together can shed new light on the teaching-learning experience.

3.  RECIPROCATE – If you are evaluating a group leader, don’t forget to let the group leader evaluate you. Evaluation is a two-way street. Have you failed to provide for any of the group leaders’ needs? Have you been accessible? What kind of training have you made available to the group leader in the last 30, 90, or 180 days? Have you encouraged group leaders through words of affirmation? Have you challenged them to challenge you to be a better leader?





  1. I am interested in this idea but would love some additional practical advice on how to carry it out. Since to my knowledge this has never been done here, how would you suggest communicating with teachers about it so that they see it in a positive way and aren’t too on guard about it? Overall would you try to make perhaps a semester long plan to be able to sit in on ever class with a coaching appointment set up for the following week? Any awkwardness with women’ only classes? Any thoughts on department leaders assisting?

    Benji Thomas Minister of Education and Missions First Baptist Church Lebanon, TN

    • Benji, great questions! Start by having your group leaders evaluate you. You’ll lead by example, and they can see how the process works. Compile their evaluations, identify areas of weakness to strengthen, and let them know how much you appreciate their feedback! As Scripture says, “Iron sharpens iron.” Work with your group leaders to develop an evaluation tool…a few key things to look for when you sit in on one of their group meetings. The group leaders themselves can help determine the key things on which they should be evaluated. I’d also suggest letting group members provide anonymous feedback (we do this at conferences…we hand out an evaluation form, collect them, and place them in a sealed envelope until after returning from the event. In the days that follow the conference, we look over the feedback and learn what we could have done better. You can do this in the small group system used by your church). I’d try to sit in on every class at least once a year, maybe twice…too much and you’ll be “spying” on them too much! As for women-only groups, yes…could be awkward…so perhaps allow the group members to provide feedback instead of sitting in on their Bible study…you’d probably not get a good feel for a “normal” group time anyway. If you have department leaders, by all means have them do the evaluating! They are closest to the action and relate closely to the group leaders. And finally, remember to use a “praise sandwich” when you meet with a teacher: Praise them for something they did right, share something that could be improved, and then praise them again for something else you saw or experienced. “Sandwiching” an area of improvement with two things they did right will create that “praise sandwich” that really helps when you provide honest feedback. Hope this helps!

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