Several questions may come to mind as you plan your small group:
To answer these questions, here are four components that are key to most small groups or Bible studies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Want to know how you can create a safe environment for meaningful connection with a small group you’re leading virtually? Here are some ideas for you.
Life-changing small group environments are less about how-tos and more about experiencing Jesus. They are not focused on building head knowledge but on changing hearts and minds. These communities not only equip their members for service but also expose sin and call people to adore Christ. Christ-centered communities transform lives from the inside out.
An environment where Christians and non-Christians can study the Bible together and care for one another can be beneficial to everyone involved.
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