If you are entrusted to be a small group leader in your church, thank God for you! Your steady investment in the spiritual formation of those in your group is so important. What a blessing! While you’re honing your skills and developing as a leader, here is a list of ten common mistakes small group leaders make. As you read through, pray that the Lord will reveal one or two things you can begin to work on to maximize your leadership toward the spiritual maturation of those who have been entrusted to you.
10 Common Mistakes Church Small Group Leaders Make:
1) Neglecting prayer. Spiritual formation is the work of the Holy Spirit. No matter how diligent your preparation or how compelling your delivery, you will never produce on your own what only the Holy Spirit of God can do. Don’t just pray with your people in group gatherings. Pray for and over them daily.
2) Neglecting preparation. If you are showing up to group time unprepared, trust me, they notice. Nothing says, “this is a waste of your time” like, “preparing for this would have been a waste of my time.”
3) Arranging the room. The room needs to be arranged where everyone can hear, everyone can participate, and everyone feels part of the gathering. Be sure your room setup is conducive to the relational environment you are hoping to cultivate.
4) Boring delivery. Don’t read from the study guide. Immerse yourself in the biblical text, internalize the main thrust of the lesson, contextualize illustrations, maintain eye contact, ask leading questions and enjoy teaching as much as you hope they enjoy learning.
5) Asking the wrong questions. Know your people well enough to ask questions that will facilitate on-topic discussion. Sometimes the question in the study guide needs to be reworded or replaced.
6) Ignoring responses. When someone responds, affirm him or her. Even if the response is not what you were looking for, affirm with something like, “Thank you, John. Anyone else want to jump in?”
7) Permitting a discussion hog. If one person is hogging the discussion, it’s a monologue not a dialogue. Take them aside privately later to gently encourage them in allowing others to be part of the discussion. Ask them to count to 10 before answering, or to not say anything next time until someone else has responded first.
8) Filling dead space. It’s just as awkward for them as it is for you. Let the question sit and give them time to think and develop responses. Someone will jump in. After 15 seconds, if they don’t, reword the question and let it sit again.
9) Wasting time. In the American West, time is the most valuable possession of our generation. Start on time and end on time. If you consistently start or end late or waste time during the gathering, you’ll lose them.
10) Muddying application. We should be doers of the Word, not hearers only. If you fill their heads with knowledge but do not direct their feet with application, wisdom is lost. Every meeting, help them think through what they should do with what they’ve heard.
What are you working on in this season to sharpen your small group leadership?
And don’t forget… you are a gift!
Grace and Peace,