How to Lead a Small Group
So you want to lead a small group Bible study? But youre 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.
Its 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. Theyll 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:
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 studys content and begin to plan your lessons. Then make arrangements for your first meeting. As you get to know the people in your group, youll 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 dont have any students to lead yet? Thats okay. Its fun to reach out to new students. Consider doing your own outreach to gather students.
6. Identify and respond to specific needs.
These students have needs (boys, girls, school, dating, parents), but you wont know them automatically. Talk with them individually. Ask questions and make a list. Note things that will accelerate their personal spiritual growth. Maybe youve 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 study.
Once youve 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 specifics.
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 weeks 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 groups 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 dont always go as planned. Be flexible and help point them back to the central truth of the study.
12. Create an environment of acceptance.
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 the group.
15. Take them with you on evangelistic appointments.
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 church.
Many of the students you work with may not attend a church, or go to one that is not teaching Gods 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 dont know Christ.
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 didnt 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:
Youve got some more questions, dont you?
Q: What do I do if a student asks a
question I cant answer?
Q: What do I do if the students want to
study a topic that isnt found in basic disciple-ship materials (i.e. Revelation,
Q: How do I handle a student who tends
to dominate the discussion, or a student who never says anything?
Q: Some of the students seem to be
losing interest in the group. What can I do?