Friday, August 12, 2016

5 Conversations Every Small Group Should Have

Small group gatherings are not business meetings. They need not have rigid agendas or strict time constraints. Although effective groups often follow set curriculum, there are times when they can take a break from their plans and have conversations about their group’s health.

These five questions can be used together or one at a time. They are designed to help groups’ determine their identity, diagnoses their health and develop a plan for the future.

How can we meet one another’s needs?

Acts is full of stories about Christians finding creative means by which they can meet each other’s needs. Some even sold their properties and possessions.

The small group is the ideal lab in which we can work out what it truly means to love one another as Jesus loved us. If the greatest love of all is laying down our lives for each other (and it is), then meeting the needs of others in our group should be one of our first and highest priorities.

How can we encourage one another?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”

Through their small group experience, people should grow to be more like Jesus. A critical tool for this kind of spiritual muscle building is encouragement for one another. Whether someone needs to be comforted, inspired, motivated or empowered; encouragement from those around them enables them to take the steps they need to take.

What truth can we speak to one another?

Proverbs 12:1 is an encouragement to speak and listen to correction. It says, “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.”

Paul told Timothy that all of Scripture is useful for correction. We all need to be corrected sometimes and we need Scripture to put us on the right path. Submitting ourselves to the discipline and insight of a loving group is a highly effective means by which to apply the Bible’s needed correction to our lives.

How can we encourage others?

As the early church grew, their influence grew. Their focus was not just on each other but on the community around them. They showered their friends and neighbors with the love of Jesus and thousands were impacted, eventually becoming followers of Christ themselves.

A group that only looks inward will never reach its potential. Groups must find ways to become externally focused. Getting out into the world and encouraging as many people as possible will unite and excite the group. Those who serve together, grow together.

Who can we include in our group?

Jesus included everyone, especially those who were inconvenient. God loves everyone, even those who don’t love Him.

Groups need consistency and time to build trust. It’s not always ideal to add new members, so groups need to wrestle with how they can be inclusive. Perhaps they can find creative means by which to include others and demonstrate to them the love of Jesus.

In conclusion

A small group should be a place for people to grow together and grow closer to God. Anyone who commits and submits themselves to a loving community of believers will find themselves being formed into the image of Christ through these relationships.

Like everything else in life, effective small groups take effort. If you are a leader, consider having one or all of these conversations with your group in the near future. They input and ideas you receive from your group will make it well worth the time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Anyone Can Lead A Small Group. Here's How.

I truly believe that almost anyone can lead a small group at your church (there are always exceptions). If someone is a disciple of Christ, they are called to make other disciples. With the right tools and equipping they can disciple others in a small group setting.


If you pastor a church with small groups, are in charge of small groups, train small group leaders, lead a small group, are in a small group, think small groups are a good thing or would just like to know a little more about small groups... I have something for you.

Below is a link to a kindle book which practically lays out the key steps anyone can take to effectively lead a small group (yes, anyone... almost). Even if you have no experience teaching, organizing or leading; the lists and charts in this book will empower you to launch and lead a group that grows together and ultimately serves together.


In this book, I lay out the 4 KEY ELEMENTS every small group needs in order to facilitate long-term success. I also provide a six-week template covering every detail you'll need in order to get off to a great start.

As a freebie, I've included a couple resources I created several years ago. You'll get the 10 COMMANDMENTS OF LEADING DISCUSSION as well as a guide to AVOID THE 4 MOST COMMON COMMUNITY KILLERS.


If you aren't a Kindle-kind-of-person, and would like a hard copy, shoot me a message. I can get you a downloadable PDF.

Monday, April 4, 2016

4 Tools Every Small Group Leader Needs

Leading a small group for the first time can be intimidating. Many people are afraid they are not capable, gifted, or intelligent enough to lead a group of people as they follow Jesus together.  I think they are wrong.

Matthew 28:18-20 is often called the “Great Commission”. In these verses, Jesus commissioned His disciples to go and make other disciples. Interestingly, though, He did not tell them to do this in their own power or using their own strength. Rather, He made it clear they would be successful because He has all power. Jesus’ authority is what makes it possible for us to make disciples.

If you are a disciple of Jesus, you have been empowered by Him to make other disciples.

Not everyone can lead a small group, but almost anyone can.

Of course, there are a few qualifications that every small group leader should have:

  • They must be a follower of Christ.
  • They should be a mature enough believer that they know their way around the Bible and can help others understand at the very least the "big story" of God's Word (creation, fall, redemption, restoration).
  • They should be able to avoid awkwardness while carrying on a conversation.
  • They should be willing to be welcoming and inclusive will all who join the group (this will likely require a bit of patience as well).
  • They probably need to be comfortable praying aloud in public.

While these may seem like a lot of qualifications, they really aren't. Anyone who has been a Christ-follower for a year and who has actively participated in a small group of some kind should be able to meet these standards.

Every small group is different. Groups are full of unique people who have unique gifts and bring unique perspectives to the group. Groups meet at different times in different places and for different purposes. Some groups are for women only, some are for men only. Some groups are for singles and some are for couples. Some groups are for young adults and some groups are for retired adults. Some groups are for teenagers. Some groups are for everyone and some groups are for just three people. Every small group is different.

Every small group is the same. Even though groups look differently and act differently, their goal is the same. Small groups, at their best, are a community of people who are sharing their lives with one another in an effort to become more like Christ.

Whether you are leading a men’s group, women’s group, college group, singles’ group, couples’ group, teen group, prayer group, mission group, study group, support group or generic group; if you start with these four tools, you’ll lay a foundation for a successful group.


This may seem a bit shallow, but meals are a very important part of our lives. It's no accident that while on earth, some of Jesus' most important interactions with His followers happened over meals. Something happens to us when we share food with other people. Acquaintances become friends and friends become soul-mates over shared meals. Somehow, the presence of food helps us drop our inhibitions and open ourselves to those with whom we're sharing the meal.


Friendship in a small group is more than just casual relationships with other people. Small group friendships are the unique type of relationships that Christians can only have with other Christians. It is a special kind of life-sharing that is precipitated by the important things we have in common, namely our faith in Jesus Christ.

Friendships like this don’t just happen. They need to be cultivated. In a healthy small group, the leader will regularly take time to cultivate friendships by building relationships among group members.  A significant period of time should be devoted to relationship building almost every time the group comes together. This is the best way to develop true friendship.


This is the primary purpose for your group's existence; therefore, it should be the primary focus for the small group leader. While some leaders are capable of preparing an effective Bible study or discussion on their own, most group leaders need help to consistently guide their group in faith-expanding experiences. Fortunately, if you know where to look, you can easily find materials that will work for almost any group.

Small group curriculum comes in many forms. If you take time to look, you will find book studies, Bible studies, topical studies, video-based studies, studies that require homework, and studies that offer a few questions for discussion. As the group leader, you need to know which type of study will work best with your group; and you need to know what subject of study will best help your group expand their faith. The best way to make those determinations is to discuss these matters as a group.


The members of a healthy small group share their lives together outside their normal meeting times. A healthy small group has "extra" events bringing them together for purposes beyond studying the Bible. These events may be meals, parties, trips, or better yet, service projects. Taking a small amount of your meeting times on a regular basis will enable your group to develop these kind of extra life-sharing events.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

25 Questions To Get Your Small Group Meeting Started With A Bang!

Small Group effectiveness is significantly impacted by the depth of relationships among the group members. Successful group leaders spend significant time facilitating "life-sharing" relationships. One of my recommendations for group leaders is that they set aside a portion of EVERY group meeting to spend time developing friendships.

Creative questions are one of the most productive tools you can use to encourage group members to talk about themselves. Sometimes, a good question will launch a group down a road of laughter, tears, hugs and incredibly deepened relationships.

I came across the following questions on Pinterest (don't judge me). They were originally designed for a Toastmasters meeting, but many of the would work well in a small group setting. You know your group, so you know which of these would be ideal for launching a meeting. Chew the meat, spit out the bones.

My favorites are:

  • If the average human lifespan was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
  • What's something you know you do differently than everybody else?
  • How come the things that make you happy don't make everyone happy?
  • If we learn from our mistakes, why are we so afraid to make mistakes?