I just started another round of small groups with a great co-leader and 15 high school guys. Pray for me.
Most people think the most important skill and gift for leading a small group is teaching and being able to speak. I say, nope. I really think one of the most important aspects of a small group leader is one who knows how to ask good and leading questions and have the spiritual gift of self-control. When we train our leaders, we let them know we want them to teach yes, that is part of it, but we would much rather have them ask a question and then step back and listen.
Students tend to remember things better when they are the ones who discover whatever the answer is to the question for themselves. Not when a leader tells them immediately what it s without there being any discussion.
The goal of small groups is for students to grow right? We need to have leaders know how to create an environment in which students are not fed facts, but are encouraged to really explore, discuss, and investigate deep truths on their own. From what I have seen, groups that allow this sort of discussion, more and more people in that group can participate because it is a discussion and more students can have life-transforming insights.
Good leaders ask good questions. There is a huge difference in groups when a leader says, “Nope. That’s wrong, Here is what this really means…” compared to, “Okay, that is an interesting thought, what do the rest of you think?” and then you stop talking and let the students begin to think and process.
If you want to show off to your students about how much you know, I hate to break it you, they don’t care. They care about great discussion and expressing what the Bibles says to them. We need to discover what our end goal for groups are, and if it’s see students grow deeper spiritually then the art of “shutting up” is key and we really need to evaluate how we run groups:
- What percentage of the group time is of you/your leaders teaching or talking?
- How many students really feel they can open up and talk about how they really feel?
- How many students do you feel you actually care?
- When did someone express something a little controversial?
- Or are they afraid to really express themselves because the leader will immediately jump on them and shut down the conversation with the “right” answer?
Small groups don’t really need talkers. They need good question askers and listeners. Sometimes leader need to NOT answer questions. Who knows, maybe during the discussions you will learn something that you have been asking God for as well.