Top 10 Qualities of Good Bible Study Leaders
Recruiting leaders for a Bible study can seem a daunting task. Here are the top ten qualities to keep in mind as you begin your search.
- Good leaders are contagious - Look for those whose interest in the Bible is contagious. People don't expect a Bible study leader to be a Bible expert. What makes the biggest impression is the leader's excitement to dig in, which rubs off on the whole group!
- Good leaders are learners - Hand in hand with a love for the Bible is a sincere interest in the material being taught. Even if the leader finds the week's lesson a little on the dry side, good leaders come ready to dive in. At their core, good Bible study leaders are learners who are ready to see what God can do on a weekly basis.
- Good leaders prepare - Members understand when a leader's week gets unexpectedly busy, but good leaders prioritize preparation. Just as enthusiasm for the Bible is contagious, being prepared also catches on. And remember that organization and preparation can look different. Even if a person is a little disorganized, that does not mean they won't be a great leader.
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- Good leaders put out the welcome mat - A safe and welcoming environment is fostered primarily by the leader. Even if a member's day starts out hectic, walking into a Bible study and being welcomed by a leader's smile can really help turn things around. From the moment the study starts, a good leader embraces her responsibility to guide members, which keeps the environment friendly and encouraging.
- Good leaders value people's stories - In a Bible study, sticking with the material is great, but letting people have a chance to share how God is at work in their lives is often a powerful teacher as well. When members feel safe to tell their story, it encourages everyone to share more freely.
- Good leaders appreciate the seasons of life - There will most likely be a colorful mix of ideologies, backgrounds, and seasons of life in a group. Good leaders encourage input from everyone, but also know how to redirect tangents. They possess a spiritual maturity that helps them navigate tricky discussions. They step out and ask people to share what they are learning but can also respect if people are in a season where sharing is uncomfortable.
- Good leaders balance growth and community - A leader focused only on growth while ignoring the needs of a group to connect with one another can seem heavy-handed. A leader who only fosters a sense of community will have a great social time but will get little accomplished with the study, which can be discouraging for those who come prepared. Strong leaders have goals for the group that are both social and spiritual and seek to have a balance of each within the study time.
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- Good leaders listen with empathy - Every person has been through highs and lows in life but some will come to a group with deep suffering or heart-breaking experiences. Even if a leader hasn't been through this same experience, good leaders cultivate a heart of empathy for others. They share wisdom and encouragement if they can, or they simply listen with a compassionate ear.
- Good leaders don't always have to lead - Navigating group conversations can seem like a complicated dance, but practice makes perfect. Good leaders can lead a discussion back to topic but can also patiently wait for a question to be answered. Even silence can benefit a group and give people space to sort out their thoughts. This doesn't necessarily come built-in to a beginning leader's skill set, but if he sees the value in it, he can learn to navigate the noise as well as the silence.
- Good leaders have their identity firmly rooted in Christ - When a leader's worth or sense of success comes from the people in the group, a leader's confidence can easily be shaken. What if the discussion falls flat despite the leader's best efforts? What if members of the group come unprepared? If circumstances such as these are used to gauge whether God is at work, then discouragement is right around the corner. A good Bible study leader teaches each week knowing that the real work is going on behind the spiritual scenes and appreciates the opportunity to be used by God in whatever part of the process He sees fit.
Good leaders are not perfect leaders, but they are usually marked with a few qualities that help foster healthy Bible studies. Be encouraged that the heavy lifting of spiritual growth is first on God's to-do list, and that frees you to prayerfully watch for those who will help Him in that work.
Julie David is married to a worship pastor and after 20 years in ministry together with three daughters, she is still developing the tender balance of thick skin and gracious heart. She currently leads a small group of high school junior girls.