Small Group Leadership: What Is Your Priority?

What Is Your Priority?

Time is the greatest excuse. My students frequently tell me they did not have time to prepare for class. Some tell me they do not have time for a daily quiet time or to attend church regularly. I remind them that we always make time for the things we really want to do. Henrietta Mears knew this as well.

I have had so many people say to me, “Oh, Miss Mears, I wish I could do all the things you do. Why, I would give anything if I could have the results you have in your Sunday School!” Well, let me tell you right now that I don’t believe you! You watch the organist play so beautifully at your church, and you say, “I would give anything to be able to play as she does!” But your mother and father spent hundreds of dollars on your music lessons when you were a child, and you were too busy to practice. Instead, you went out to play with your friends. So, it is with your Sunday School class: You don’t have the results because you do not take the time or make the effort to do anything about your teaching or to learn more about your students. I tell you truthfully that I have never seen a teacher who was willing to invest time and effort in his class who was not successful-that is, if he was teaching the right age class. (“Henrietta Cornelia Mears” in the Christian Educators of the 20th Century Project)

Mears led Sunday School and small group work through the zenith of the Sunday School movement. Nearly every church had a Sunday School and these schools combined to make the largest school “system” in history. Not only was Sunday School THE organized teaching arm of the church, it was accepted and expected. Times have changed. Our culture is not enamored with Sunday School or anything like it. Yet, the principles Mears used to build the largest Presbyterian Sunday School in the world are still important and effective today. In her words above, being effective in teaching a Sunday School class or leading a small group was within grasp of any willing worker. But, as she ably reminds us, if we are to be effective, we must make it our priority.

There are some givens: being matched with an age-group suitable for a teacher’s talents and personality, being willing to train, developing focus, and taking advantage of the opportunities one has to attain skills. But, above all, an effective small group leader is dedicated to it. He or she prioritizes their work of leading. Sometimes saying yes to leading a group means saying no to a host of other things. There is a price to pay. No one excels without assuming the cost.

Leading a group is a wonderful privilege and a challenge. Your teaching and leading can be first if you are willing to make it first.

Scripture: Read Titus 2:1-15. Paul encouraged Titus to make instruction in the Word a priority. What teaching principles can you identify in this passage?

Dig Deeper: Learn more about Henrietta Mears at The Writings and Wisdom of Dr. Henrietta C. Mears (

Published: Jun 1, 2017


Select Category