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Leading Small Groups

Check out these leadership resources for wisdom and practical tools, from facilitating difficult conversations to leading virtual groups to creating and sustaining small groups with a "missional" mindset. Visual learners will appreciate the Small Group Network offerings, and Group is your go-to source for curricula and training.


4 Resources
web resource
Small Group Network Channel
This YouTube channel, provided by Small Group Network (SGN), aims to enrich...
The Little Book of Cool Tools for Hot Topics: Group Tools to Facilitate Meetings When Things Are Hot
This concise book will be helpful for people looking to spark conversations about difficult...
MissioRelate: Becoming a Church of Missional Small Groups
This resource looks at the future of small group ministry and offers the missional church...
web resource
This web resource is a vast library of resources for small group ministry that is organized...

Guest Contributor

Marie Fleming

Marie Fleming was a contract resource consultant for the Center for Congregations. Her consulting practice includes congregation-based Permaculture Design and equipping congregations for creation care.

Small Group Leader Resources

For a congregation to function more effectively, it may be a good idea to rely on experienced small group leaders. Even though clergy often play a key role during worship events, it can still be helpful to keep members of the congregation as involved as possible. That is where small group leaders can be important players. Small groups provide members of the congregation with an opportunity to interact not only with each other but also with different spiritual leaders. Small group leaders want to successfully run effective small group sessions. This can often mean relying on a variety of small group leader resources for help.

When thinking about small group leader resources, it can be good to understand that there are lots of resources available out there. For example, perhaps one of the most key resources that small group leaders can use is each other. Small group leaders may find themselves needing to lean on each other for support, from time to time. For instance, one small group leader might be exceptional at creating short, powerful devotions, while another small group leader might be exceptional in getting their members to show up on a consistent basis. And meanwhile, a third small group leader might be particularly effective at using images or videos as a part of his or her sessions. With this in mind, it can be a good idea for small group leaders to try and learn from other leaders so that they can figure out the ways in which they can work to improve their own sessions.

It may also be helpful for small group leaders to turn to the internet for support. For example, there might be videos of specific small group sessions out there that could prove to be helpful. A small group leader might then want to use information from that session in his or her own session. There are also online articles, books, and PDF documents that small group leaders can use to help enhance their own sessions. Ultimately, it can prove to be a good idea for small group leaders to try and take a comprehensive, well-rounded approach when it comes to running a small group session.

Small Group Leaders

No matter what type of congregation is present, small group leaders can often be seen as playing an important role in that group. When reviewing a small group leader application, one thing that might be helpful is looking for a small group leader who is able to adapt to changing circumstances, as a small group leader oftentimes also has to be able to get people of different backgrounds to work together.

When taking a look at prayer for small group leaders, it can be good to get individual members of the small group involved, which could then act as an icebreaker, encouraging people to open up and share information with each other. Perhaps one of the key small group leader responsibilities is that of ensuring that members of the small group are participating during the session.

There are numerous roles that a small group leader may play, as the session unfolds. For instance, small group leaders can sometimes be expected to answer the questions of members. Particularly if there is a religious verse that is the focus of the small group session that day, then members are likely going to have questions about it, which the small group leader will be expected to answer, or otherwise facilitate discussion about. Naturally, it might also be good for small group leaders to understand how to value the opinion of each individual member, as everyone is likely going to have a slightly unique perspective on the topic that is being discussed. In this situation, the small group leader can help encourage people to voice their opinion.

When developing small group leaders, it can be good to provide a sample scenario for them, and then seeing how each small group leader will respond. Some situations can prove to be easier to handle than others. Perhaps importantly, it might also be worth noting that there is no single right answer to these scenarios. On the other hand, however, there might also be a wrong way to handle a certain situation. A small group leader might very well be seen as someone who should never foster conflict. Rather, a small group leader should be able to facilitate helpful discussions.

These are just a few of the roles that a small group leader may play, and as they continue to gain more experience, they are likely going to begin to develop their own individual styles, when it comes to running a small group session.

Small Group Sessions

No matter what type of congregation is present, the point of small group sessions is likely going to be to provide members with an opportunity to interact more closely with religious texts and with each other. When it comes to a small group leaders meeting, it may be a good idea for leaders to take some time to discuss the topic of the day. In some situations, every small group may choose to focus on the same passage, while in others, small group leaders may have their own individual plans in mind for the session. This is something that the pastors might need to consider deciding on ahead of time. It can also be a good idea to help provide encouragement for small group leaders. By providing leaders with useful small group materials, they can be better set up for success.

As the small group session begins to unfold, the first step may sometimes be to open with a prayer, in which small group leaders should perhaps try and get members of the group to participate. Perhaps they can have a shout-out for certain people. Then, the small group leader can go over what happened during the last meeting, which can be helpful for people who might not have been able to make it to the previous event.

Next, the small group leader might explain how the last meeting relates to the current one. Perhaps they might be moving forward in the religious text, for instance. Then, the small group leader may choose to ask people to read line by line, as this can represent a way to potentially get people to participate. As the passage unfolds, the small group leader might also try and encourage people to voice their opinion on what they feel the meaning of the passage is. The goal here is likely not only to interpret the passage in its context but also to try and relate the passage to everyday life. That way, members of the small group will be better able to apply the passage to their daily lives.

Small Group Ministry Resources

It may be worth noting that some small groups can have a specific purpose, and with this in mind, it can be a good idea to take a look at devotional topics and small group ministry resources that could be helpful. When looking at small group ministry topics, one common topic that can tend to come up is to spread the word of the religious texts. This type of evangelism can be seen as a core component of just about every religion. It may be helpful to use small group software to reach out to people who may be interested in learning more about the religion.

Another common focus of small groups is often to help other people, and when looking at this, it can be helpful to make sure to take a look at charitable organizations in the area. That way, small group leaders can potentially identify ways in which their small group can work to have an impact on the local community. Naturally, helping those less fortunate and evangelism can oftentimes go hand-in-hand, and there are a lot of resources available out there to assist small groups in their ministry efforts. It may prove to be helpful to reach out to other small groups that might have a similar purpose in common. That way, small group leaders may be able to collect some ideas that could be helpful in meeting their goals.

Small Group Discipleship Curriculum

At the beginning of the semester, a lot of small groups will oftentimes develop a small group discipleship curriculum, which can typically start with a small group devotional, before feeding into a variety of small group ministry ideas. In addition to outreach efforts, it is helpful to use a template to plan individual sessions. For example, a lot of small groups may decide to focus on only one or two sections of religious texts per semester. From there, they may cover a certain number of lines or verses with each session, and in some cases, it may be helpful to bounce around from book to book, if the focus of the passages remains similar. For example, the focus may be placed on individual relationships, relationships with a higher power, or on helping others. If there are multiple passages that speak to the same topic, then it may be helpful to cover them each in the same semester.

It might be a good idea to take a look at a free small group curriculum for ideas regarding how to shape the topics that are going to be covered during the semester. That way, members can perhaps feel as if there is a theme to the small group meetings. When members are able to identify and understand what the focus of the meeting is, then they are perhaps going to be more likely to go on to implement the focus of these meetings in their everyday lives.

Church Small Groups

Naturally, there are a lot of churches out there that have small groups as part of their functions. Church small groups can prove to be helpful because they can provide members with an opportunity to interact more personally with leading members of the church and other members of the congregation. Furthermore, they can also help create an environment for people to get to study religious texts in greater detail. When members participate in small group sessions, then they may begin to feel more like members of the church, potentially increasing their loyalty to the body as a whole.

When taking a look at small group ministry models, it can perhaps seem obvious to state that the members of a small group have to stay in touch with the congregation. The good news is that there are numerous ways in which this can happen. For example, social media platforms and email lists can be used to keep a small group up-to-date on things that are going on, along with numerous options that can be considered, when it comes to a church small group app. If members of a congregation are able to receive updates regarding the small group regularly, then they are perhaps more likely to participate in it. It can be good for religious organizations to think about how they can use small groups to help improve their reach. This can also represent a good way in which churches can get to know members of the congregation a little better.

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