When Everyone Leads

Sometimes small groups choose to share the role of Bible study leader, with a different person leading each week. This has both advantages and disadvantages.
Sometimes small groups choose to share the role of Bible study leader, with a different person leading each week. This has both advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

  • Each member contributes
  • Members grow in confidence.
  • Members feel greater ownership of the group. They are more likely to participate in decision-making.
  • Members grow in faith as they trust God to enable them.
  • Members dig deeper into Scripture. Preparing to lead a study usually motivates them to study more thoroughly than if they were just participating.
  • Members learn from each other's unique perspective and approach.
  • In time, some group members--confident in their ability to lead--will "give birth" to new small groups.

Disadvantages

  • The quality of teaching may drop a few notches. In extreme cases, the group can get off track doctrinally.
  • Meetings may disintegrate into chat sessions instead of effective studies depending on the skill level of the leader.
  • Conflict resolution and problem-solving get complicated when there is no leader with whom "the buck stops."
  • Shared leadership rarely works in groups where maturity levels differ widely. New believers lack the experience and familiarity with the Bible to lead comfortably and effectively.

Keys to Making It Work

  • "Pad" your group with at least on well-trained, experienced Bible study leader. Members will then have a model to learn from and a mentor to troubleshoot for the group.
  • Find at least one thorough, easy-to-use handbook about how to lead a small group. Provide a copy for each group member, and make it mandatory reading.
  • Choose studies that provide helpful leaders' guides and well-written discussion questions.
  • Delegate nonteaching roles for six-month terms. Examples of such responsibilities include prayer-chain coordinator, social planner, and snack organizer.

Paul encouraged the Colossians to "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another ...

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