observations and readings about church ministry ideas, challenges, solutions, and trends
Monday, February 13, 2017
13 training options for Bible study group leaders
By Ken Braddy
It’s true that training makes a difference. The leaders of the Georgia Baptist Convention surveyed over 2500 churches in that state and asked the question, “How frequently do you train your group leaders?” Then they sought to understand the growth pattern of those same churches over a four year time period. The result? A strong correlation between training and growth emerged. Churches that trained group leaders quarterly or monthly grew at a rate of just over 13% during that time period. Churches that had no ongoing training actually decreased in size by just over 2%. The conclusion? There’s a connection. Training matters!
Here are 13 training options for churches of all sizes and shapes. There’s no reason any church should be without a plan for training if you offer some of these:
Weekly training. Few churches do this today, and those that do typically offer only one curriculum in all of their adult groups (or student and kids groups) so the focus is on helping teachers look ahead at the upcoming lesson. Lesson preparation is normally the theme of these meetings.
Monthly training. This typically involves age-group training (adult, student, and kids leaders) in separate training sessions. Each group participates in training designed for the age groups they lead.
Quarterly training. Churches that practice this kind of training bring all group leaders together in one room to hear a message designed for them all. A guest speaker is frequently brought in to rally the troops.
Training opportunities offered by your local association. Local associations of churches often schedule training events in the Fall, Spring, and late Summer. Check with your local association to know what their pattern of training looks like. These tend to be affordable, low-cost events.
Training opportunities offered by your state convention. Like local associations, state conventions offer training events as well. These take place year-round, so check with your state convention about the training opportunities they are providing this year. These tend to be affordable, but often require traveling to a regional location.
Regional training opportunities offered by LifeWay. The company I work for provides regional training events called “Transform” and we utilize professional trainers and practitioners to deliver high-quality workshops aimed at improving teaching in all kinds of settings.
National training opportunities offered by LifeWay. LifeWay owns the Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina and offers training events there. It also schedules events like the On Track Sunday School Training Conference, offered just once a year in a destination city like Nashville.
Personal training. There is nothing to keep you, a group leader, from creating your own annual plan for personal training. This may include a workshop you pay to attend, or books you read on your own so you become a more effective group leader.
Training in triads or quads. Some church leaders enjoy placing group leaders in smaller groups of 3 or 4 persons for the purpose of training them. The group is asked to read a book or article provided by the church staff leader to whom they report. The group then gets together once or twice to discuss what they’ve learned.
Training done in a retreat setting. If a church can afford this kind of investment, it can pay big dividends. A retreat setting allows everyone to focus on the training and relationship-building that takes place when you get away for a few days.
Training done by partnering with another church. Churches are learning they can partner with one another and share costs of bringing in a guest presenter. This makes training affordable for both churches (or perhaps 3 or 4 churches).
Training done online. LifeWay’s Ministry Grid is an online tool for training group leaders. It is customizable, and there are thousands of videos available and ready to be watched by busy group leaders – at their own pace and in their own time.
Training using this blog. Some church pastors and leaders like to take content from a blog like this one and use it to train group leaders. I list other blogs sites that might be helpful in the top right corner of the blog’s home page so that you have even more options.
Dr. Pat Ford joined Church Partnerships of LifeWay Christian Resources in 2007 after 35 years of ministry in church, university, and seminary settings. He can be contacted at 832-725-4253 or email@example.com, and followed on Twitter at @patford.