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.
FUN WITH FRIENDS
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.