This is a post by Rob Tims that originally appeared on the LifeWay Church Leaders blog. Rob is a Christ-follower, husband, and father of four and lives in Nashville, TN. Rob works at LifeWay Christian Resources, and he also is an Associate Professor for Liberty University Online and enjoys preaching and teaching in various venues throughout the year.
One of the greatest challenges facing any leader responsible for developing group leaders and Bible teachers in the church is training each leader at the appropriate level. Some are new to leading or teaching, and some have been doing so for many years. Some are more comfortable with detailed curriculum while others prefer more discussion. With such a broad range of experience and comfort levels, how can church leaders effectively and efficiently equip everyone at the same time?
First, take the long road.
Remove the expectation that any one person will be perfectly equipped and become a drastically better teacher any time soon. Training someone to teach is not unlike discipling someone in his or her faith: it takes time in prayer and practice to see results. Regardless of the resources and tactics at your disposal, begin with the end in mind, knowing that the end is a longer distance away than you might like. Lowering your initial expectations is a great way to see and appreciate real progress as time passes.
Second, take a personal approach.
Nearly 20 years in to serving through pastoral ministry of various forms, I’ve found that the people in volunteer teaching roles nearly always express a desire to be known and loved by the people called to train them. All of the books, emails and videos I’ve shared aren’t lost on them, but by taking the time to share a meal and talk about their class and the upcoming studies, teachers experience a personal investment in their ministry that is never taken for granted. As a result, maybe you should be spending less time looking for resources and more time investing in your leaders personally.
Third, take a custom approach to resourcing.
If your teachers are at different levels, then no one resource will necessarily work for every leader. Fortunately, there are many great teaching tools for every kind of teacher, regardless of his or her level of experience, such as smallgroup.com which has quickly emerged as a tool that nearly every teacher of any experience level can use. Because the tool is so simple to use, and because every study is customizable, teachers of every experience level can receive or create a study that is perfect for them and their group/class.
Regardless of how you choose to resource your leaders, do it personally and patiently. You’ll never regret taking time to invest in people by starting where they are, one day at a time.