When is the best time to train Bible study leaders?
This is really a two-part question with two answers. The first answer is you should begin training a Bible study leader the moment he or she agrees to lead a group. Nothing would be more irresponsible than to recruit people to do a task and then not prepare them to succeed at that task. Giving new leaders a book to read or the resources we expect them to use to lead their group is a great start, but we must do more. How to use the resources provided, tips on preparing, and answering their questions should all be part of what is provided before a person steps into a group setting for the very first time.
The second part of this question is about ongoing training of all Bible study leaders. No time will be perfect for every leader, but you can find a time that works for most people. The point is that you determine a time and then stick with it.
Two key considerations must be examined when determining the best time. The first is frequency: weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually. Some research indicates that the monthly and quarterly options may be the most effective. It stands to reason that these two would make the greatest impact. If you conduct a monthly training time, you probably will only actually have 10 meetings, skipping December and July. If a person misses one month (and they will), there are 9 other meetings they can attend. If you conduct quarterly meetings, attendance becomes a premium, but you can make these 4 meetings something worth planning around.
The frequency impacts the time slot selected. Monthly meetings will more likely need to be at a time when the leaders may already be on campus (if your groups meet on Sunday morning, then after the morning worship services or a Sunday evening). Early Saturday morning may also be a possibility. Quarterly meetings are more likely to be on a Saturday morning or Sunday evening since these tend to be a little longer than a monthly meeting. Some have found meeting during a Sunday morning worship service to be a great time to conduct quarterly meetings for some age groups.
Involve the leaders you hope to train in making the decision. Show them the frequency options and the time slot options. Let them suggest other possibilities. Whittle it down to two or three possible combinations (every month on Sunday evenings, quarterly on Saturday mornings, etc.). Discuss the pros and cons of the two or three possible combinations and make your decision based on that discussion.
All leaders need initial training and ongoing training. You can make yourself invaluable to the organization by finding the best time to offer that training and then do it with excellence.
G. Dwayne McCrary is the team leader for Adult and Young Adult group resources at Lifeway, leads two weekly Bible study groups (one for empty-nesters and one for 4-year olds), serves as an adjunct professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and carries 20-plus years of church staff experience. He is married to Lisa (both native Texans), and they have two children and one grandson. Find him on Twitter: @gdwayne.