6 Healthy Habits of an Effective Sunday School Leader

What are the habits of an effective small group teacher/leader?

I have read tons of articles and books on the subject.  I took multiple classes on the subject in seminary.  In all of my reading and research, the same set of habits emerge as key characteristics of a small group leader that is having a huge impact.   Here is the list, and a brief thought about each:

1. Consistent Devotional Life :  You’re ability to lead is directly related to your discipline to read.  Christian teachers and leaders should be consistently reading God’s Word, and something devotional that affirms and applies christian spiritual disciplines in their life.

2. Balanced Family Life:  The first and most important small group God has called you to care for is the one that lives in your home.  It’s true for pastors, deacons, teachers, and everyone.  Your family’s needs don’t compete with the needs of your class or group.  You will never be able to care for the needs of your group with integrity if your family’s needs are not met first.

3.  Develop Leaders:  Healthy classes and small groups produce leaders.  Who have you identified in your group as a potential leader, and what are you doing to bless them in their growth?

4.  Invite New People:  The greatest obstacle to the growth of your group is people not inviting someone new.  As leaders, we set the pace.  Our lives should reflect a commitment to inviting new people to church and Sunday School.  If our people don’t see that we are excited enough about the class to invite folks, why should they feel that way?

5.  Make Contacts with Guests:  Follow up.  It’s a discipline that we all have to work on.  A simple contact expresses value, and makes people feel loved.  Any contact is worth the time it takes.

6.  Dedication to Building Trust:  The class atmosphere should be open, honest, comfortable, and welcoming.  That is the environment in which people learn to trust, and no one ever experiences the  true beauty of the gospel outside of a trust relationship.  Leadership sets the tone.  Trusting relationships don’t happen by accident.  Leaders should be deicated to building trust within their groups.

These characteristics were highlighted in this recent article.  As was the following excerpt:


A man had a beautiful garden that yielded rich and abundant food. His neighbor saw it and planted his own garden in the spring, but he did nothing to it: no watering, cultivating or fertilizing. In the fall, his garden was devastated, overgrown with weeds and bearing no fruit. He initially concluded that gardening does not work. After more thought, he decided that the problem was bad soil or maybe that he lacked a “green thumb.” Meanwhile, a third neighbor started a garden. Though his garden did not immediately yield as much as the first man’s, he worked hard and continued learning. As he practiced new ideas year after year, his garden reaped an increasingly abundant harvest.

The truth of this parable is obvious. I traversed the globe to discover the secrets of small-group growth, and the same principles made the difference between cell growth and stagnation in every country, culture and church. Prayer, hard work and the steady application of proven principles set apart the successful cell group leaders. The insights outlined here will work for you if you are willing to pay the price. These habits require time and effort.

The proven principles we have agreed to steadily apply are the values that make Sunday School W.O.R.K.:  Wants to Grow, Organized to Serve, Reaches Out to New People, Keeps People Connected, and Studies God’s Word Together.

Successful cell leaders spend time seeking God’s face and are dependent on Him for the direction of their group. They prepare themselves first and then turn their attention to the lesson. They pray diligently for their members as well as for non-Christian contacts. But successful cell leaders do not stop with prayer. They come down from the mountaintop and interact with real people, full of problems and pain. They pastor their cell members and visit them regularly. They invite new people, visit newcomers and evangelize naturally in their small groups. By developing these habits, any cell leader can lead a group to grow and multiply. That is God’s heart and His Great Commission. How are you doing?


I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment field below, or on facebook at facebook.com/dwalker96sc

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