Small Group Leader as Facilitator

Small Group Leader as Facilitator

I am convinced that anyone can lead a small group. At least anyone can begin the process, and then, they can “grow into” the role they have taken up. It’s not advisable to get someone “fully” trained before starting a group. Many get discouraged and may not continue with the process. Rather, as they catch the vision, they just need to make a commitment and begin.

John Wimber once said that we have commonly used the analogy “Ready, Aim, Shoot.” But he said that we need to modify that and say “Ready, Shoot, Aim.” Get the person ready at a basic level, and begin. Then work on fine-tuning the process.

So as you get ready to lead a small group, here are four areas where you can develop your skills. You “grow into” these four roles as you lead your group. We’ll look at each one of these roles in the next few weeks, beginning with the first one this week.

Four Roles of a Small Group Leader

1. Facilitator – Meetings

2. Shepherd – Care

3. Mentor – Training

4. Leader – Vision


The weekly meetings are only one aspect of the entire Small Group experience. We will look at the other aspects in the following weeks. Yet these meetings are vital since this is the regular time when the members gather together.

Here are some things to remember as you facilitate the meetings

1. Venue

Make personal connection with the host family. Since their home is being used as the venue for the Small Group meetings, it is important that they have completely bought in to the vision of the group and your church. If this is not the case, and they are unsure about the church, the group, or their faith, then that is a recipe for disaster.

They don’t need to be perfect people. They will have problems like everyone else. They must be accepted as they are. They just need to have a heart that is hospitable to have people in their home. Otherwise, they will always be unhappy and that will show. Ultimately, people will stop coming to a group meeting if the host family is not hospitable.

The home doesn’t have to be perfect. You need a home sn’t need to be perfect. It needs to be “functional” enough for you to gather every week. Accessibility of the home as people travel, space in the living room, and other logistical things are important, but above all, the welcoming attitude of the host family is most important.

2. Agenda

You may have a suggested agenda given to you by your local church, and that is fine. Generally,

here is a good suggested pattern:

  • Welcome (Icebreaker, small talk, coffee, snacks)
  • Worship (Get intimate with God as you reflect on his goodness)
  • Word (Start with real life issues, and move to the Word, and apply it to life)
  • Wind (Take time to allow the Holy Spirit to minister to the group members)*

As the Facilitator, it is your responsibility to guide the meeting seamlessly through these four agendas. There is no need to announce that you are going to the next item on the agenda. Make smooth transitions. Let the people experience each one.

3. Discussion

In the agenda above, I’ve given the term “Word” for the discussion time. You may wish to do a “Bible Study” based on a book of the Bible. But make sure to begin each discussion with a “life issue” that the people can connect with.

The better option is to do a series of discussions based on various aspects of life that people in your group may face. Let those life situations be the beginning point for your discussions. Then, you move them on to the Word of God, and finish the discussion by applying it to life.

4. Ministry

In the “Wind” part of the meeting, make sure you allow the Holy Spirit to take the lead as you pray for people. Learn to listen to the voice of the Spirit. You will be surprised what God will do when you listen and allow Him to “lead” your prayer time.

As the Facilitator, find out what the needs of the members are. Allow the members to minister to each other. Lay hands on the sick and pray for their healing. For training on praying for healing, click here.

5. Communication

As the group gathers together in the meetings, their relationships begin to develop. But it is vital to take these connections beyond the group meetings.

Here are two ways to accomplish this.

  • Make sure that you connect with each member weekly. The best option is to pick up the phone and make a call directly to each member. If that call doesn’t go through, then leave a voice message, email, or some type of message that the person uses.
  • Encourage each person in the group to connect with each other. The relationships between the members outside of the meetings can be a meaningful way of caring for each other.

In this digital age, we simply message each other as if that is sufficient. Yes, that certainly communicates information, but falls short of personal connection. Make it personal.

As the Facilitator, I encourage you to “grow” in each of these five areas. Let it be gradual. Work on  these aspects each week. For more resources on small groups, click here.


*Thanks to Jim Egli for the label “Wind” for the ministry time ( Jim has great resources for Small Groups on his site.

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