Leading a Small Group

Four Key Components of a Small Group Meeting

Rick Hove


Several questions may come to mind as you plan your small group: 

  • What elements should I include in the group this week (such as a lesson, prayer, fellowship, etc.)? 
  • How long should I spend on each element? 
  • How can I best structure the group session to meet the needs of the group? 

To answer these questions, here are four components that are key to most small groups or Bible studies.

1. Interaction With Each Other

Your group meeting is a relationship-building time. Include icebreakers or some other form of sharing time or fellowship. 

Building community in your small group is crucial, even if group members already know each other. A leader can use a question or icebreaker that will help everyone get to know each other better. It’s important to choose an activity that fits into the time allotted for fellowship. 

Never underestimate the importance of creating an atmosphere where people feel at home. Icebreakers and other relational interactions are great for this, and you’ll find that food always helps. Jesus often met with people around a table with food.

2.  Interaction With God’s Word 

This is when the group studies and applies God’s Word together. Many leaders see this as the real meat of the group, but sometimes the other parts of the group meeting can make your time in the Bible come alive.

3. Interaction With God in Prayer 

Spend time praying. As a group grows together, prayer increases in importance. 

A new group may not feel comfortable praying together, but give it time. You can pray for the group at the beginning of the meeting and maybe ask a more mature member to pray at the end. 

Sharing prayer requests helps the group bond and helps their faith grow as they see God answer those prayers. This might eventually become the group’s favorite time.

4. Offer Information About Upcoming Activities 

 If you have any social activities planned for your group outside of your regular meeting time in the next few weeks, remind them of these. If your group is part of a church or ministry, there may be church/ministry-wide activities you want to talk about attending with your group members.

Remind them of the meeting time and location for the following week. You might ask someone to bring snacks or get a volunteer to help with an icebreaker.

You could also include a teaser for next week’s topic to motivate them to come back. 

Each of these ingredients helps produce an effective small group. Though you may emphasize one or another more during different meetings, all of them are a part of accomplishing the goal of bringing the group nearer to Christ.

Next Steps

As the leader, you can make each group session fit the purpose and needs of the group. 

Think through these issues as you determine how long to spend on each element in your small group session:

  • What is the purpose of this group? 
  • What are the needs of this group? 
  • What am I trusting God to do in this group? 
  • How does this specific group session fit the overall purpose?

Sometimes the sessions won’t work out like you planned. Just relax. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Trust the Lord, care about your people and give it your best.

Learn More About Leading Small Groups:

Sign up to receive weekly tips about leading a small group, or check out “The Ultimate Roadtrip: A Guide to Leading Small Groups” for an in-depth discussion of this topic and many other crucial topics for small group leaders.

For more on leading, see “(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Leading a Small Group.”

Adapted from Rick Hove, “The Ultimate Roadtrip: A Guide to Leading Small Groups” (Orlando: CruPress, 2010). Order at Crustore.com.

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