We know we need to make time to contact people in our Bible study groups and to reach out to those who ought to be in our group. But we also feel the pressure of Sunday, knowing our group expects us to deliver a compelling and organized lesson. Sunday always seems to be approaching and needing our attention. We can delegate the care and reaching to others in the group, but this is still our group and we set the standard for everyone else. If we are going to foster a reaching culture in the group we lead, we may need to do some things differently that give us time to shepherd and lead in reaching others. Here are four things to consider.
1. Refine your understanding of teaching. Our definition of teaching can get in the way of being a shepherd and culture setter. Consider how you define teaching. Do you view it as presenting? Are teacher and expert synonymous in your mind? Do we view participants as active or passive? Are multiple teaching styles used? One reason we may feel the pressure of Sunday is it is about us performing, delivering content in a compelling way as opposed to finding ways for the group to interact with the Bible passage. In effect, we create an unhealthy codependency: they depend on us to fill their heads with facts and we depend on them to affirm all the work we did to fill their heads and keep them awake. (You can find more about this codependency and solutions for it in chapter 3 of Saddle Up, Download).
2. Take advantage of designed curriculum. One of the challenges we face as the leader is deciding what is taught and when. This what and when is called a scope and sequence. Here is where resources designed for an open ongoing group become big time savers. Resources like the ones created by Lifeway are developed by a team of people dedicated to creating a scope and sequence that consider a variety of factors including seasons, themes, and appropriate Bible texts. If others have done this part of the work, we are then free to do other things that only we can do, like shepherding and creating a reaching culture.
3. Use the group plans provided. It is usually easier to start with an idea than a blank piece of paper. We may not be very fond of the idea proposed, but it at least gives us a reference point from which to work. Good leader guides contain group plans. These are more than notes on what the participants have in their hands but are step-by-step plans that describe how we can lead the group to use the resources in their hands. We may adjust the plans to fit our group or our teaching styles, but at least we have a plan that can be followed.
4. Take advantage of podcasts, blogs, and related resources. The teams that create Lifeway’s adult resources host weekly podcasts for leaders that can be listened to on the go. This helps you use your time wisely as you commute, exercise, or do other things around your home. You can find these on most platforms that house podcasts. Weekly blogs and extra files are also available online to help you prepare or discover additional questions, teaching ideas, and sources. Look for the Leader Helps section on the respective website connected to the resources used in your group: Bible Studies for Life, Explore the Bible, The Gospel Project.
“I’ve got to prepare” can become an excuse more than a reason when it comes to why we fail to schedule time to contact people in our group or push aside those who might need to be in our group but are not currently. We hide behind the need to prepare, exempting us from shepherding and reaching. That need not be the case and we can use these tools to help us find the time needed to shepherd well.
Review Making Time for Reaching on pages 32 and 35 of Farsighted to get a clearer view of the importance of scheduling time to reach out to others. Download a free copy here.