By Allen White
For a new small group leader, this question ranks right up there with public speaking and an IRS audit. No one likes to get caught off guard. Fear kicks in. What if the leader loses credibility? What if the group doesn’t trust the leader? What if they don’t come back? Here’s some help in navigating Bible Jeopardy in your group:
1. Group Leaders are Facilitators, not Bible Teachers.
If this was a class and you were the teacher, then you should have all of the answers. Shame on you. Not really. Group life is not a top down exercise. Group members are the branches, but you are not the vine (John 15). Group leaders are not the hub in the center of the wagon wheel. Your Bible knowledge or lack thereof should not jeopardize the group.
Group life is more like a web of relationships. As group leader, you took the initiative to gather the group. You are responsible for the group, but it’s not your responsibility to do everything for the group. As a facilitator, rather than a teacher, your job is to get the discussion started and keep it going. You are not the Bible expert. If your group is using a teaching DVD, the expert is on the video clip. Your role is to ask the questions and help your group get this teaching to where the rubber meets the road.
2. All of Us Are Smarter Than Any One of Us.
As leader, you are not the sole person responsible for the spiritual welfare of the group. The group is responsible for each other. While that includes you, care is not limited to you.
When someone asks a question you’re not prepared to answer, throw this one out there: “What do the rest of you think?” Now, you’ve bought a little time. Let the group talk. In the process, you might send up a quick prayer, and who knows, you might end up with a solid answer. If all else fails, google something on your smartphone.
3. When In Doubt, Here’s the Best Answer.
The best answer is simply “I don’t know.” You gain credibility when you’re honest, but you definitely will lose it if you try to fake it. No one has all of the answers, but I wouldn’t mention that to your in-laws. Every pastor and Bible teacher gets stumped once in a while. Just confess that you don’t know, do a little research, and talk about it again at the next meeting.
4. Google It with Caution.
You can even go one better than researching the answer yourself. Ask the person with the question to research it and get back to the group. But, a word of caution – not everything on the internet is true. Unconvinced? Then, where’s the $40 million promised by that Nigerian man?
There are many reputable websites that can help:
Christian Research Institute: equip.org
John Piper: desiringgod.org
Print Resources that have helped me over the years:
When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidence By Norman L. Geisler
Hard Sayings of the Bible By Walter C. Kaiser Jr.
The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus By Lee Strobel