Small group leaders are serving in an important, powerful role. You are guiding the study of God’s Word, helping to plant seed that will prayerfully reap a bountiful harvest of faith.
Regardless of the small group’s main topic, the central purpose is to draw closer to God and know Him better. You desire to have a positive impact on the members of your group, and these five practical strategies can help:
1. Respect Time Limits
It’s up to small group leaders to make sure the group starts and ends on time. Making it a habit to stick to the schedule encourages everyone to arrive promptly and it shows you respect the participants’ time.
Effective leaders also know when to bring discussion to an end, even if it seems like there is more to say. It will keep your members actively thinking about what you just discussed going forward in their week.
2. Make Eye Contact a Priority
One of the best ways to encourage participation is by arranging the room’s set-up so that everyone can see everyone. When you’re able to focus on the speaker, you’re less likely to get distracted by a buzzing cell phone and you’re more likely to hear what they say the first time. This helps everyone stay engaged in the conversation.
3. Don’t Become the “Expert”
It’s tempting for small group leaders to begin answering every question that comes up, but avoid this trap. Discussion is essential for all group members to get to know each other and learn from different perspectives and experiences. If your members seem to be looking to you for the answer continually, ask someone else to answer the question.
4. Facilitate Involvement from Every Member
One of the biggest challenges for small group leaders is knowing when to stand up to the “talker” and reach out to the passive listener. There will always be one or two (or more) people in the study who have answers for every question. While they may have much wisdom to offer, it’s essential to encourage sharing amongst all members.
Try asking for participation from someone who hasn’t yet had a chance to share. If your “talkers” continue to dominate conversation, consider asking them privately to help you work towards your goal of involving everyone.
5. Don’t Do Everything Yourself
Ask a group member to open up the next session with prayer. Create a schedule for bringing snacks and drinks. Make the success of the small group a team effort and everyone will feel they’re making a hands-on contribution to the group community.
Want to learn more about how to lead effective small groups? Check out our free guide “How To Create Small Groups That Grow.” Small groups are the number one factor in church growth.* When your groups are healthy and growing, so is your church.