3 words good group leaders say

Words that come in threes can be very powerful. Phrases like “I love you” or “Please forgive me” can change the course of people’s lives. As a Bible study group leader, there are 3 words that I must be willing to say to my group members. The three little words can change the culture of your group in a heartbeat. Saying these three words frees me as a group leader, and they liberate the members of my group. What are those powerful 3 words?


“I – don’t – know.”

I lead a group of empty nest adults weekly as we explore the Scripture, talk about how it intersects our lives, and how we can allow God’s Word to transform our hearts, attitudes, and actions. I’ve learned to say “I don’t know,” and guess what? Gravity still works. The sun still comes up. The world doesn’t end. Life goes on. These 3 little words have changed me and my group, and I bet they’ll change you and your group, too, for the following reasons:

1.  We no longer have to be the experts.  If I refuse to say “I don’t know” when someone asks a question of me during a Bible study, then I position myself as the person who has all the answers. I make myself to be the expert who has figured out the deep mysteries of God’s Word. I make myself out to be the brilliant teacher to whom my group members always turn. But if I am comfortable telling my people, “I don’t know,” then I can step down from my pedestal and sit among my group members as a fellow sojourner, someone who loves the Lord and who sometimes struggles to have all the answers my group members need. That’s O.K. because together we can search the Word of God together for the answers they need, and we can enjoy the journey of transformation together.

2.  We help group members see that they could teach the group, too. It’s a fact that most churches are not starting enough groups. As I admit to my group members that I don’t have the answers to their questions, they see that I’m not an infallible Bible expert. It gives them hope that if asked, they, too, could guide our group’s Bible study. If I don’t have all the answers, they don’t have to feel like they must have all the answers before stepping up to teach.

3.  We have more time for ministering to our group members. Saying “I don’t know” means that I don’t have to spend all my free time studying to have the answers to questions that might be asked during a Bible study. I can focus on what meeting the needs of my group members between sessions. Don’t mishear me on this. I believe we should diligently study God’s Word. I believe we should search the Scriptures and be prepared to lead people in Bible study. But I don’t believe we should spend every waking hour doing so. I need to spend time discipling people and meeting the needs of my group members; there’s more to being a group leader than just guiding my group in Bible study!

The next time you teach your group, be ready to say “I don’t know.” It will change you, and it will change your group.


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