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How to Lead a Small Group
How to Lead a
So you want to lead a small group Bible
study? But you're wondering, "What do I do? What will I teach? Will the group
even listen to me? Can I really do this?" Sure you can! Here are some thoughts that
will help begin your small group.
Some Thoughts on Leading Small Groups
1. Teach the basics.
It's a blast to help new Christians grow
in a close-knit setting. Make sure to teach the basics of the Christian life and give
training in basic ministry skills. The best part of all is helping the group develop a
heart for reaching others for Christ.
2. Realize your impact is far-reaching.
Small group studies are a big part of a
growing campus outreach. Your campus will benefit big time from your small group. Know
that you will be helping to reach the entire school through the training of your group.
Your students' hearts will also begin to desire to help fulfill the Great Commission.
By leading a group, you will offer important accountability and intimacy that the students
want. Your study will also provide a non-threatening place to discover truth. They'll
love digging into the Word and seeing how it applies to their lives. The best part is
seeing the students begin to lead others because of the impact you make in their lives.
3. Interact and give assignments.
Jesus showed us an example of small groups
through his relationship with His 12 disciples. He interacted with them and gave them
assignments. Paul even learned from Jesus' example. Paul explained:
- "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you
richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom . . ." (Colossians
- "The things that you heard me say in
the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach
others" (2 Timothy 2:2). (This is an example of discipling group members to multiply
4. Evaluate the needs.
Think through these important things before
you begin your small group Bible study. Begin evaluating the needs of each person in the
group. Based on their needs, you will decide on the study's content and begin to plan
your lessons. Then make arrangements for your first meeting. As you get to know the people
in your group, you'll find out more needs and topics you can cover. After some time
of leading the group, evaluate your progress and how the students are doing.
5. Reach out to new students.
What! You don't have any students to
lead yet? That's okay. It's fun to reach out to new students. Consider doing
your own outreach to gather students.
6. Identify and respond to specific
These students have needs (boys, girls,
school, dating, parents), but you won't know them automatically. Talk with them
individually. Ask questions and make a list. Note things that will accelerate their
personal spiritual growth. Maybe you've noticed that a certain student struggles with
guilt. Bingo! Do a study on forgiveness for this student. Another student in the group is
a brand new Christian; she knows nothing except that she loves Jesus. You will need to
focus on the basic foundations of the Christian faith for this student.
7. Split into two groups if necessary.
As you spend time with the students, you may
find they are at different maturity levels. Because of this, you might want to split into
two different groups. However, the relationships within the group may be more important;
in this case keep them together.
8. Find appropriate materials for your
Once you've figured out the
students' needs, find material that relates to their maturity level. It will be
helpful to find material that is already written. This will save you time. Another benefit
to using pre-written material is that the students can use the same material in the future
for leading their own studies.
9. Plan out a location and meeting
Pick a good time and place to meet. The home
of one of the students is often good, especially if that student is a leader. Let students
know how long the Bible study will last. People have busy schedules, and this makes their
week's planning go a little smoother. Call them in the middle of the week to remind
them of the meeting. Parents will appreciate being informed also.
10. Include key components as you
schedule out your study.
A schedule of your typical study should look
a little like this: Spend about 15 minutes letting the students share and interact with
each other, maybe over some refreshments. After pulling the group together, open the time
in prayer, and spend the next 30 minutes in Bible study. You will catch the group's
attention by starting off with a creative activity. Give the students an application at
the end of the study and then spend the next 10 minutes in conversational prayer.
11. Be flexible.
Keep in mind that as you discuss the lesson
with the students, things don't always go as planned. Be flexible and help point them
back to the central truth of the study.
12. Create an environment of
During your meeting, you want to create an
environment where the students will know they are accepted and that the lesson applies to
specific areas of their lives. Do this by encouraging good questions, being enthusiastic,
and making sure you are familiar with the material.
13. Be real.
Allow the students to get to know you as a
real person. This is where they will be able to see Christ in you.
14. Build relationships with others in
- Some ideas for building relationships between
you and your group are:
- Be an encourager. Think the best of others.
- Show special kindness. Learn to be a giver of
your time and your possessions.
- Find out what their interests are and do the
things they want to do. Put them before yourself.
- Go places together. If you are planning any
kind of activity (shopping, recreation, doing some work for someone) invite one of the
group members to go along.
- Call them. Let them know you are thinking
- Exercise or work out together.
- Study together both schoolwork and
- Eat together. Going out to eat is a great time
to have fellowship and talk.
- Attend Christian activities together. Select
gatherings that will be helpful for their growth.
- Write or e-mail them. Let them know how you
are doing and that you are thinking of them.
- Share personally what God is teaching you.
Don't be afraid to share some of your own needs.
15. Take them with you on evangelistic
You will be an encouragement and teach them
more than you could in a Bible study by letting them see you live out your life. They will
develop a heart for telling others about Christ too!
16. Get your students involved in a
Many of the students you work with may not
attend a church, or go to one that is not teaching God's Word. Depending on their
situation, you will want to get students involved in a church that will nurture their
faith. Be sensitive to parents. Make sure you communicate with the parents first before
taking them to your church. If it is a family tradition to attend church together,
encourage the student to be a missionary to those in the church who don't know
17. Debrief after each study.
After each Bible study, take time to
determine the effectiveness of your time together. Make a few notes on things that could
have been done differently. Ask yourself, "What specific needs came up? Which
students need to be drawn out at the next meeting? How effective were the learning
activities? What did and didn't work well? Did they retain the main point of the
lesson? Did they leave the Bible study wanting to know God and His word?"
18. Pray for and evaluate each student.
Pray specifically for each student. Ask God
to help them understand and apply the lesson. As time goes by and the students begin to
grow, observe and evaluate their personal progress in three areas:
- Do they have a growing dependence upon, and
love for Christ?
- Are they growing in love for one another?
- Do they have an increasing compassion and
concern for a lost world?
You've got some more questions,
Q: What do I do if a student asks a
question I can't answer?
A: Don't be afraid of students asking questions. Encourage it. Don't fake an
answer. Refer the question to the whole group and see what kind of responses follow.
Explain that you don't know the answer, but would be more than happy to find the
answer for the next meeting.
Q: What do I do if the students want to
study a topic that isn't found in basic disciple-ship materials (i.e. Revelation,
A: Keep in mind that the overall purpose of discipleship is to "present every
man mature in Christ" (Colossians 1:28). Students need to first know the basic
truths of their faith. But don't discourage their interest in other issues. Sometimes
short studies on different topics would be good.
Q: How do I handle a student who tends
to dominate the discussion, or a student who never says anything?
A: Talk with the student privately. Tell them how much you appreciate their
interest and enthusiasm. Explain how important it is for everyone to have a chance to
share. With really quiet students, it helps to understand why they aren't involved.
They may feel uncomfortable about giving their comments. Get them involved by asking them
specific simple questions.
Q: Some of the students seem to be
losing interest in the group. What can I do?
A: Here are a few questions to ask yourself. First, are you "scratching where
they itch?" Take some time to honestly ask students about what's happening in
their lives. As you receive their responses, make appropriate adjustments. Typically,
students respond to loving, directive, serving leadership. Second, have you communicated
the vision and purpose for the group? Perhaps they need to hear again from you why
you're giving your time to lead the group.