How to Lead Small Groups Effectively
As stated previously, small groups have been essential to growth of the Christian Church since the time of Christ and remain so throughout the world today. Almost every church has some form of small group Bible study. Jesus Christ exemplified the power and importance of small group instruction with his own group of 12 disciples. And although he had a much larger community of followers, he invested much of His time and effort into the lives of these twelve.
Leading small groups can be one of the most maningful and satisfying experiences of your Christian life. Your influence is greater and more long term with a small group. This is because interaction is more personal and can directly address specific issues group members are facing. Following is a brief discussion of principles for effectively leading a small group Bible study. Whether the small group you lead consists of students, married couples, men, women, teenagers, youth, or any age group, these principles remain the same.
1. Know Your Bible Study Group Members
- Know every member of your small group and pray for them regularly.
- Show genuine interest and care for them. Spend time before, after, and outside of Bible Study meetings to get to know them, their circumstances, motivations and their needs. This will help you to pray for them more meaningfully.
- Names are extremely important. There is nothing more pleasing to ears than our name. You must know every member of your group by name.
- If there is a new member or visitor, make sure that you acknowledge him and introduce to the group.
- If you have more than 2-3 visitors, you can take some time for the introduction with some fun questions or game. (Like, what is the weirdest food, you have ever had?…)
2. Be Creative and Imaginative
- Be creative in your discussions and questions.
- Visualize the situation.
- Use maps, whiteboards, games, time lines.
- Give some small assignment, quiz or fun group activity to the group, keep the engaged.
3. Be a Facilitator, Not a Preacher
- Remember that you are not a preacher, you are facilitator of the discussion group. Make sure that you don’t keep talking.
- Communicate your questions well, rephrase it if possible.
- Don’t let it be silent for long time, give hints, ask individuals.
4. Equal Opportunity
- Make sure that every one participates in the discussion.
- You will always find few people, more responsive than others.
- But, don’t let it be discussion between just 2-3 persons. Ask individual, remembering names will be useful here.
- You will often be surprised to hear insight from people who generally remain quiet.
- Remember that silence does not always mean non-participation.
- Many times, you will find the discussion being side tracked or distracted in particular topic.
- Use your judgment, to continue or bring the group back to the main idea or passage.
- If there is some major important issue, let the discussion continue. The idea is to learn here and not stick to the passage.
6. Time Management
- 25-30 minutes of bible study time is perfect. Don’t make it too long.
- Don’t let the group loose focus.
- If there is some important theological discussion going on, you can conclude bible study, but continue the discussion, so that those who need to leave can go.
- Don’t try to finish the passage because you run out of time. You can continue next week. (So many times, I have seen leader’s finishing the passage or topic suddenly, so that they don’t have to lead next week.) Again, good preparation will be helpful here.
7. Finish Strong
- Spend enough time in the application of the word.
- Challenge your group for the not only ‘learner of the word but the doer of the word’.
- Don’t make it too emotional. After all, the things that will stay with the group is not the emotion, but the teaching.
- Encourage them for personal bible study.