Below you’ll find the show notes for episode 46, Supporting Bible Study, Discipleship, and Small Group Leaders, from the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast.
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Today we’re continuing our discipleship series by talking about supporting group leaders.
Bible study, discipleship, and small groups need strong, committed, loving leaders.
As women’s ministry leaders, we need to do everything we can to make certain our group leaders feel supported and loved.
What does that look like?
4 Key Support Systems for Group Leaders:
- Leadership Development
While all four types of support are needed, spiritual support is critical.
1. Spiritual Support
Satan does not want women in God’s Word. He will attack your group leaders and their group members.
Please pray for their protection, for their physical health, for their preparation, and personal time in God’s Word. If they are married, pray God will protect their marriage. Pray for the members of their small group to do their homework, attend each week, and share what they’ve learned as they studied. You’ll find my free guide for Praying for Your Small Group here.
Reach out regularly and ask your group leaders how you can be praying for them. Text them an encouraging Bible verse. Send them a text when you have prayed for them. Just knowing that you’ve prayed for them will be an encouragement!
2. Leadership Development Support
Group members take notice when their group leaders are prepared.
Taking the time to train your group leaders before their meetings begin will benefit everyone. New group leaders should go through some type of orientation. Even seasoned group leaders can benefit from a refresher course on what is expected.
You may want to:
- Roleplay how to manage difficult group members
- Review the schedule for the year
- Walkthrough the first lesson together if they are all studying the same materials
- Set expectations for communicating with group members
- Devote some time to getting to know one another
- Pray together
- Distribute a list of recommended resources such as counselors and crisis centers
When I was a leader in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) we had weekly meetings for the leaders the day before our discussion groups met. It allowed us to share our homework answers with one another, have a short training, and pray together. It was a significant time commitment, but it was incredibly valuable.
Be sure to check out the Great Discipleship, Bible Study, and Small Group Leaders blog post. I share my best tips for recruiting and training great leaders.
3. Physical Support.
We can also support our leaders by providing physical resources and tools.
When I served as a Bible study leader in one church the women’s ministry team put together Bible study boxes for us.
Each week when I would arrive, I’d find everything I needed for my group in my box in our meeting room. There were name tags (or name tents), the attendance sheet, our prayer sheet, extra pens, mints, tissues, and sticky notes. (All linked here on my Amazon Idea List). At the end of our group time, I would return the box to the women’s ministry director’s office and it would be refilled before we met again the next week. While we might not need the tissues or mints every week, we didn’t have to dig through our bags when we did need them. That simple extra step made the administrative tasks for our small group much easier.
This could also mean making sure you have extra books ready and available, ensuring the tables and chairs are set up in advance, and adjusting the thermostat so group members aren’t bringing in blankets to keep warm. Yes, that’s really happened!
I love to give volunteers unexpected thank yous. Drop a handwritten note in the mail letting them know how much you appreciated the extra effort they made with a specific group member. Give each leader a small treat – a box of mints, a candy bar, or a $5 gift card to a local coffee shop. Just make sure it’s something they can use! For more ideas, be sure to check out the post about Volunteer Appreciation.
4. Emotional Support
Leading a group can be emotionally draining.
Group leaders often feel the weight of serious prayer requests. Leaders can be discouraged when attendance is lacking. When group dynamics are a struggle, we can blame ourselves for the lack of unity or participation.
Check in on your group leaders regularly. Ask how they are doing. Find out if they need additional support. Maybe they have a group member who needs meals for an extended period of time and you could help spread the word so that one group doesn’t bear that burden alone.
Sometimes group leaders need to talk through the specifics of a situation. Your wisdom and a different perspective can help.
While recognition is never expected, it is almost always appreciated.
Publicly thank your small group leaders. Host a thank you luncheon or take them out to lunch or dinner once a semester.
If your church hosts an annual volunteer appreciation dinner, make sure your leaders receive an invite. Our church held a volunteer appreciation dinner this spring and every leader had a couple of minutes to thank their team. There was childcare, a nice meal, and the church staff handled all the decorations and prep work – so no volunteer needed to serve. They highlighted a couple of personal stories and we all celebrated what God had done. It was really special.
Today’s Toolbox Tasks:
- Create a list of the ways your team provides spiritual, leadership development, physical, and emotional support to your group leaders.
- Identify any gaps and make a plan for how to fill them.
Offering spiritual, leadership development, physical, and emotional support will strengthen your small group leaders.
Strong leaders create strong groups.
You may also want to read:
Praying for Your Small Group
Bible Study Leader Kit
Great Discipleship, Bible Study, and Small Group Leaders
Volunteer Appreciation: Great Gifts and Guidance
Creating a Schedule for Discipleship, Small Group, and Bible Study Meetings
Dividing Women into Groups for Small Groups and Women’s Ministry Events
Discussion Group Guidelines
The Benefits of Bible Study Homework
Collecting and Sharing Prayer Requests in Your Bible Study, Discipleship, or Small Group
Coordinating Childcare for Your Bible Study and Women’s Ministry Events
6 Questions Your Women Will Have About the 1st Day of Bible Study
The First Day of Bible Study
5 Myths Bible Study Leaders Believe