Wanting to start a small group? In this video, Discipleship & Small Group Specialist, Chris Surratt, gives three practical things to consider before you begin.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
The thought of leading a small group can be intimidating and a bit overwhelming at first. There are a lot of details and decisions to think through before you begin, but these three will help ensure that you get off to a great start.
1. Decide who to invite to be a part of the group.
The people on your invitation list will eventually be people you do life with. A majority of our closest friends in life have come through our small groups. They have become accountability partners, shoulders to cry on, people to laugh with, and ultimately, family.
That’s why it is critical that you put a lot of thought into the list. You should also keep in mind that not everyone you invite will end up in the group, and not everyone who comes to the first or second meeting will stick with the group until the end. And that’s okay. The people God sends to your group will be there for a reason and for a season.
The first thing you want to do is something we often do last: pray for the right people for your group. Pray that God will give you wisdom about whom to invite. Pray for those relationships to develop. And pray that the people you invite have open hearts and minds. By starting with prayer, you acknowledge that the formation of the small group is in God’s hands.
After you’ve given it to God, sit down and make a list of potential people to invite. Start with the people in your inner circle. That list will include family members, neighbors, and coworkers—the people you may already do aspects of life with. And after you have that initial list, broaden it to people just outside of your inner circle—maybe someone you talk to at church who doesn’t seem to be connected to a small group, or someone you’re friendly with at work. There may also be a neighbor that you wave at as you pass that could be open to an invitation. Most people are longing for deeper community, but they don’t know where to start. The invitation to your group may be that first step needed.
2. Decide where the group will meet.
You have a lot of choices of where the weekly group meeting will take place, and each choice has pros and cons.
First is a home.
A natural location for your small group to meet is in your home, or the home of another group member who is willing to consistently host. Hosting a group in a home helps create community faster than most other locations. You want to make sure that the home can comfortably fit everyone, and that it is centrally located to where everyone lives.
Another option is a neighborhood clubhouse
A lot of neighborhoods have nice clubhouses that sit empty most nights of the week. They sometimes come with a nominal cleaning fee but are often free to people living in the neighborhood or apartment complex. They’re not as instantly comfortable as somebody’s home, but they do offer a large gathering space for the group discussion time. Childcare can be an issue at a clubhouse with only one large room. So think about that.
You also might think about a room at the church building.
Your church may offer nights during the week where groups can use classrooms as a meeting locations. The obvious benefit is having a central location where most group members already go every week. Also, depending on the policies of the church, there will be available rooms where childcare can take place. The downside of meeting at the church is the lack of intimacy offered in a classroom as opposed to someone’s home. Offering food can also be a little bit more difficult if there’s not an available kitchen.
3. Learn how to facilitate a Bible study discussion.
A core component of leading a small group meeting will be facilitating the conversation through the Bible study. Even though you may not be teaching a lesson, there are still little things you can do and watch for that will help guide the group to a spiritually impactful discussion.
The leader’s main role during the discussion time is to ask questions. Asked in the right way, those questions will lead to a thought-provoking discussion that forces the group to dive deeper into the Scripture behind that week’s focus.
If you study the ministry of Jesus, you notice that He asked a lot of questions. Jesus asked questions because He wanted His listeners to go beyond hearing and start thinking. He knew the answers—He is God, after all—but people need to learn to think for themselves. This style of teaching brought everyone into the narrative.
Those three things: deciding who will be in the group, where the group will meet, and knowing how to facilitate a Bible study discussion, will help you as you prepare to lead a small group.