Bible study leaders are some of the busiest people in churches. They normally have their teaching position plus something else (or somethings…many wear multiple hats and serve in multiple ways). They not only have to teach, shepherd, and lead their groups (see a more detailed description of these 3 roles in the book 3 Roles For Guiding Groups), they also have at least 5 other essential tasks they should master:
1. Analyst – Group leaders must regularly analyze the effectiveness of their teaching. As leaders guide their groups to actively study the Bible, they would be wise to set aside time to reflect on the way group members react to the Bible studies they craft. Savvy leaders will analyze and identify things that went well in a study, and things that could be improved upon.
2. Catalyst – Group leaders are typically the catalysts for launching new groups. They can either support this important (essential!) task by encouraging their group members to branch out (“franchise” the current group and start another one), or they can selfishly hold onto group members, saying things to church staff like, “Don’t split my group” and “Don’t ruin our fellowship by dividing us.” Catalytic group leaders understand they should hold onto group members with a very loose grip. The group and the church both belong to the Lord.
3. Apologist – Group leaders must be proficient in their ability to explain and defend their theological beliefs. The word “apologist” has its roots in a Greek word meaning “to speak in defense.” When group members have questions, leaders should be able to explain the Bible’s teaching on a variety of subjects and “defend” (explain) doctrine. This is not to say that group leaders must have all the answers to everyone’s questions – that normally doesn’t happen! But they should be able to curate information and respond to people’s questions related to theological matters even if they have to say, “I don’t know the answer to your question – but I’ll find an answer.”
4. Strategist – Group leaders have an important role to play in the overall work of their group. Someone has to decide what the group is going to be about – what it will study, where it will meet, how it will serve, when it will convene, and much more. Group leaders should be strategic thinkers who take limited people resources and maximize them for the largest Kingdom impact possible. None of us have unlimited time, and strategists seek to help their group members grow, serve, and relate to one another in strategic ways.
5. Futurist – Seeing a better future for the group is a big responsibility for group leaders. Future-thinking group leaders know when it’s time to start planning for a larger place to meet to keep the group growing (or when the timing is right to start a new group). They also see opportunities to help group members grow spiritually, empowering them to continue maturing and becoming more like Christ. Group leaders who are futurists see the next leader of the group, and take steps to groom that person as an apprentice leader who will one day take over the group and provide “next generation” leadership.
Group leaders wear multiple hats. The job of a group leader goes way beyond simply preparing and teaching a Bible study lesson! Which one of these 5 “hats” do you need to start wearing more often?