There is an abundance of Small Group information, practices, patterns and processes.  It seems easy for a church to find a book or a practice and copy it…and then stops learning.  Here are five steps I recently took a church through that transitioned their thinking about Small groups.

The church was very new, had two small groups and was struggling to grow more groups.  After a few hours of conversation here are the steps we planned:

1. We defined Small Groups in a fresh way: Objectives need to be clear for success to be experienced in group life. Discipleship, Community and Service are the objectives for LP small groups.  This helps keep our focus off of when and where groups meet as well as what they study; allowing the group to live out these objectives like a family instead of an academic group. Define small groups by they church’s direction and design the processes that make groups more easily accessible.

2. We freed up leadership: Discussing the Pastor’s sermons was the ‘curriculum’ expectation for group leaders.  It is difficult to replicate this level of leader, one who can lead a discussion about a Pastor’s sermon.  It is very intimidating for most church attenders to be asked to write a couple of questions during the sermon, then lead discussion with other adults. We added the opportunity for groups to choose their study based on objectives and expectations, using Bible study curriculum or DVD led studies.  This opened up the leadership opportunity to many new people.

3. We looked outside the walls of the church: Up to this point, small groups had only targeted those who attended the church. However, when discussing relationships that could lead to small groups, each attendee had been building relationships with neighbors, sports parents and school leaders. By the end of our meeting we had discovered potentially 7 new small group leaders based on relationships.

4. We calendared Host orientation for all new leaders: We added requiring an interview and orientation for all small group leaders.  This helps each new leader know the goal, how to enlist their friends/neighbors on their own to establish a core group, and learn how to lead a small group.  This also gave us a chance to get to know the new leaders, know how to pray for them and know when to check on them.

5. We offered a connection event after worship on Sunday morning: In order to give those attending the church an opportunity to join a group, we conducted a connection event on Sunday morning following the worship service.  The groups were highlighted in the bulletin and had a display area to share about their interests and where they would be meeting.  People could talk with the leaders and decide which group they would like to join.

As you begin to look for opportunities to grow more small groups, look around the church.  Who has been building relationships with people outside the church?  Who might be able to pull a group of people together for a small group?

Maybe these five steps will make leading a small group in your church more desirable and successful.