4 Tips for Implementing Small Groups

Healthy Discipleship Through Small Groups


by John Hailes/ October 26, 2017

I’ll be honest: small groups scare me! It’s that strange segment of our services where we hand over groups of kids to volunteers, and we lose control. Every children’s ministry leader has walked into a small group room only to find the small group leader is talking about something totally different to the scheduled lesson. As a recovering control freak, it’s one of my nightmares!

Despite this, no matter how much small groups might concern me, I am even more convinced they are necessary. Small groups provide a dynamic that is vital for discipleship. I have learned over time that small groups are only effective if we adequately prepare and train our volunteers.

My small group leaders understand their role is simply to do the following:

1. Connect with kids.

The primary purpose of small groups is to allow kids to connect with each other and with a leader. This should be the space where kids realize we really care about them. I encourage my leaders to open with a fun ice breaker question and end with a game or activity.

2. Steward the conversation.

For me, small group leaders aren’t teachers—that shouldn’t be their primary purpose. (I’m not referring here to a traditional classroom setting where the leader is up front teaching. I’m referring to an interactive small group where the leader is the facilitator, guiding the discussion.) Although there will be times when kids need to answer questions, the leader’s primary job is to ask questions to the kids and steward the conversation. A successful small group is one where the students talk more than the leaders.

3. Lead kids to their Bibles.

We don’t provide enough opportunities in children’s ministries for kids to open Bibles. Small groups are the best possible time for leaders to show kids how to find Scriptures. For every question we ask our kids, we have a Scripture passage they can find! I don’t want our leaders answering every question a child asks; I want our leaders to take kids to a source that can answer all their questions.

4. Train kids to pray.

If our kids rarely open Bibles in church, I’m sure they encounter even less opportunities to pray! Small group is the perfect place to help kids learn how to pray. I encourage our leaders to prioritize prayer times in their small groups. They take requests from kids and they ensure other kids are praying for those requests.

I believe these parameters help our kids get the most from their time in small groups. What other aspects of their role do you encourage your small group leaders to embrace?