Small Group Leaders’ Biggest Mistake

By Doug Franklin August 3, 2016

What do you do when a student responds to a Bible study question, but you know there is more for the student to uncover? Do you ask a follow up question or do you just let it go? Often times I find adults leaders make the mistake of not pushing to go deeper in learning. Maybe they think students won’t like them or they are not sure if the student can answer the question? Maybe we desire correctness over learning. Whatever the case, we as teachers have to ask ourselves, “what is our priority?” Is it for the student to learn or is it for us to feel good about ourselves? Courage and teaching go hand-in-hand. For us to have courage we must first have our priorities straight. Jesus did; just read the first seven chapters of Mathew. Jesus goes right after the toughest topics of his days. Or how about the woman at the well, did Jesus back off there? No, we can’t either. Let’s challenge our students and push them to think in church. Let’s make our first priority their growth.

When you find yourselves leading a Bible study remember these simple ideas to make learning the focus.

  1. Start by telling the students there are no “right or wrong” answers. This takes the pressure off them and you. Tell them you want to help them not only understand the passage but also help them know how to study and apply God’s word.
  1. Always ask follow-up questions to students’ answers. Most of the time when a student gives an answer they are only starting to think through the issue in their lives. Simply take their answer and ask them, “what does that mean in your life?” or “what does that look like in your life?” This will cause students to internalize the scripture and get them to start applying the truth of God’s word.
  1. After a student has demonstrated that they have learned a new concept from God’s word, ask them how they would teach it to another person. Discussing a concept gives us some level of learning; teaching it to someone else causes the learning to go way up.
  1. Whenever a student gives an answer or you have a discussion with them during a Bible study, make sure to end every interaction with an encouragement. For example: “Great insight, I like the way you think,” or “Excellent thought on that one.” These encouragements will remind students that you want the best for them and you don’t just care about the answer, you care about them.

When small group leaders focus on the right answers vs. learning God’s truth discipleship comes to an end. The pressure of time and wanting measurable results cause us to abandon the goal. As a small group leader we must avoid the desire for correct answers and move deeper into learning. When we do this, students are more drawn into the Bible and how to live out its teaching in their lives.


About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More