This is part three of a three-part series on guiding groups, based on the book 3 Roles for Guiding Groups, by Ken Braddy and David Francis. You can secure a free digital copy of this book at lifeway.com.
In the two previous posts, we’ve explored two of three roles that every group leader must accomplish: Teacher and Shepherd. Teachers guide their groups to study the Bible using a variety of teaching-learning techniques. Shepherds care for the people in their groups by loving them, serving them, and caring about their spiritual growth.
There is one final role we must not forget: Leader. This is the role that usually makes group leaders the most uncomfortable. It’s a challenging concept to people who have volunteered to lead a group at the request of a groups pastor or someone else on their church’s staff. Agreeing to teach and shepherd people is one thing. Agreeing to be identified as a leader is something else! It may make the group leader uncomfortable. But there is no reason it has to elicit feelings of inadequacy or fear.
Leader: Guiding the Group’s Mission
When you hear the word “leader,” who comes to mind? The president? A business mogul? A hero from the world of sports? You? Most people do not self-identify as leaders. They would not place their name on a list of leaders. That’s too bad, because every person who teaches and guides a group is a Leader! Accepting the role means the group leader mentally agrees that they are indeed the leader of the group; embracing the role moves the person beyond simply agreeing they are a leader into the realm of leading change and being proactive in helping the group accomplish its assigned mission.
To lead a group effectively, there are several things a Leader must do:
- Organize. The Leader doesn’t have to do it all and be the proverbial “jack of all trades, master of none.” It is the responsibility of the Leader to make sure that the class is organized to carry out essential actions. The Leader is responsible for creating a leadership structure that works for his group, based on the number of members, their spiritual gifting, etc.
- Recruit. Because a group Leader doesn’t have to go it alone, he will want to recruit others to help carry the load. If you want to see the greatest biblical example of this, read Exodus 18:17 and the verses that follow. Moses solved his leadership dilemma by recruiting others to help him, and it worked!
- Relate. A savvy Leader is going to build relationships on three levels. He will be a mentor to other younger, less experienced Leaders. Second, he will be a mentee, someone who is being encouraged, counseled, and built up by a more experienced Leader. Finally, he’ll relate to a group of peers, others who are at a similar place in their leadership journey.
The three roles that every group leader must fulfill are much too important to address fully in a forum such as this. I encourage you to download a free electronic copy of 3 Roles For Guiding Groups at lifeway.com. The book includes end-of-chapter discussion questions for you to consider, which are great tools for guiding discussion among group leaders, should you meet with a small group of leaders around a table at a restaurant or a coffee table in a living room. Finally, there are free downloadable conference plans in case you want to turn the book into a training event for the group leaders at your church.
Ken Braddy is Manager of LifeWay’s Adult Ongoing Bible Studies and has served as an education pastor and executive pastor for 18 years, prior to his role at LifeWay. He leads a weekly Bible study at his church, blogs regularly on the topic of Sunday School and small groups, and co-authored the book 3 Roles For Guiding Groups. He has written hundreds of leadership articles and trained group leaders across the country. Ken is a native Texan, loves tex-mex, and wishes he had his 1978 Camaro back. Follow him on his blog at kenbraddy.com.