By Jenny Culpepper - Sales, Marketing, and Church Relations
From how-to projects to best-loved recipes, we love to use handy shortcuts or magic formulas. The same is true when we start a small group. What are the top tips? What are the best practices? As Christians, we don’t have to guess. God’s divine power has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). The Bible directs our plans, for “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Starting with God’s Word, five key questions will help frame your small group to build your fellowship, convict your hearts, and transform your lives.
One of the key failures in small groups is not starting from a common goal. After introductions and administration, a group leader can ask:
Shared expectations are important, and God’s Word directs us with an essential goal for small groups: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together… but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24–25). Without a common purpose among group members, unity is difficult and progress is stalled.
The second question lays a firm foundation of trust and confidence:
Scripture helps us set guidelines for confidentiality, commitment, and accountability. First, we should freely share the light of Christ with one another (Matthew 5:14). Second, we should confess our sins to one another (James 5:16), knowing nothing is hidden from God (Hebrews 4:13). Finally, we must trust one another with our thoughts and feelings (Proverbs 11:13; 25:9). Members sharing others’ personal takeaways outside the group can destroy trust, safety, and respect.
The next question sets a foundation for fruitful, biblical transformation:
What resources will help you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18)? How can you turn your eyes together to the eternal truth of God’s Word (2 Corinthians 4:18)?
Along with strong trust and solid content, faithful commitment is essential for strong small groups. People hesitate to commit to anything for an indefinite time, so lead the group by helping members “count the cost” of their involvement before the group starts (Luke 14:28; James 4:13). Ask:
If the study lasts for six weeks, a seven-week time frame allows for a fellowship meeting at the end. Configure the best dates and times, then stick to that schedule! Encourage one another to commit to the group with the obedience of faith (James 5:12; Proverbs 16:3).
Finally, lead the group well by tending to administrative details. Ask:
Consider meeting length, prayer time, discussions, absences, snacks, and other activities. God is concerned with order in his church, and small groups can be a grace-filled example of the local body (1 Cor. 14:40). Be diligent in your planning, and may the Lord bless your fellowship (Proverbs 21:5)!
Bible Study Media offers small group studies that build community and fellowship around God’s Word. You can also check out our Training Series for small group leaders. We are here to help you Ignite your faith and support your fellowship in Christ.
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