Small group leader training

I’m facilitating a session on training small group leaders this Sunday, and it dawned on me that many of you know a whole lot more about small groups than I do. I figured I might get lucky and get some advice from those of you are small group experts or have other thoughts on small groups. [Please leave comments below.] It’s probably too late to make dramatic changes for this Sunday, but I’m sure I can incorporate some, and I will definitely file all the advice for the next time.

When I was first asked to facilitate the section on “leadership” for the small group leadership training at our church, I laughed. Our pastor, Oscar Muriu, speaks on leadership all over the world (e.g. Leadership interview; Urbana speech). I’m also surrounded by lots of great Kenyan leaders; some of them are phenomenal group discussion leaders. Nevertheless, I guess I was the one who was available, so I facilitated a session a few months ago, and I’m going to do it again this Sunday.

I have led and organized small groups on three continents for different age groups, but I’m no small groups expert. I still get nervous whenever I’m asked to lead a group session. Below, I’m going to outline my plan for the hour and a half that we have.

Side Note: While I was in Paris, I took a Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) training course thinking that might give me an opportunity to work in a country I otherwise wouldn’t be able to enter. While I never did wind up teaching English, the course revolutionized how I looked at working with adult learners. Two things stand out. First, the more the teacher talks, the less learning actually happens. Second, people seem to learn best (and enjoy it more) when they can work on specific tasks in group. Here is how I’ve set up the time so far.

The overall training lasts 5 weeks:

  1. An overview and introduction to small group ministry at our church.
  2. The small group leader (this is the one I’m doing)
  3. The small group meeting – (preparation, group dynamics, leading discussions, etc.),
  4. Pastoral care (2 sessions)



WARMUP: On an index card, list two or three leaders you admire and write one or two sentences about why you admire them. What leadership gifts do you bring to the role of small group leader?
– A few minutes of introductions and discussion.

REVIEW & INTRODUCTION: Review a few points from last week’s presentation about the purpose and vision of small groups in our church.

GROUP TASK 1: (in groups of 5 or six)

  1. Develop a list of qualities you think small group leaders in our church should have.
  2. What are the responsibilities of a small group leader in our church?

[Last time the group was full of gifted leaders, and they basically came up with all I would have wanted to present myself anyway. The difference was they had a lot more fun doing it, and they were able to take a lot more ownership. They also added several points I hadn’t thought of.]
– Discussion and questions.

CORE PRESENTATION: Here I summarize some of the materials I give them in handouts. One of my colleagues gave me a list of 3Cs that are essential leadership and I structure my presentation around these.

  • Character (see verses in Group task 2.A below)
  • Competence
  • Concern

They’ve asked me basically to cover Part 2 & 3 of Bill Donahue’s Leading Life-Changing Small Groups (Willow Creek/Zondervan 2002), so I do a flyby of the following:

  • Motives for leadership
  • Small group leaders personal focus
  • Small group leadership skills
  • Small group leadership responsibilities: (build leadership, connect people to community, develop members in your group, multiply the ministry.)

Then I present them with tools and resources I have found helpful (bible reading plans, prayer helps, internet resources)

Finally, I remphasize the need to delegate and help others within the group lead the bible study or prayer time (see previous post – A radical introduction for new small group members).

(Discuss as a group and prepare a short 2 minute summary presentation.)

A. What can the Bible teach us about leadership?
(Discuss as a group any 2-3 of the passages below)

Exodus 18:13-25; Mark 10:42-45; John 10:1-21; Acts 6:3-6; Acts 20:38-36; 1 Cor 4:1,2; 1 Cor 12:1-31; Eph 4:11-16; 1 Thess 2:3-13; 1 Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:7-9; 1 Peter 5.1-5

B. Write a job description or job posting for small group leaders at our church.
C. How can a small group leader develop leadership competencies?
D. Develop a plan and give some helps for the personal spiritual growth of small group leaders at our church.
E. What are some key principles for helping your small group members grow spiritually? What practical steps can we take to carry out these principles?
F. Describe a clear picture of your vision for your small group.
How can you motivate your members to work towards this picture?

[Last time, they knocked these activities out of the park so to speak.]

2 thoughts on “Small group leader training

  1. Kristi says:

    Hi — I’m glad I came upon your site — I googled “small group leaders training” and found you, and you’ve given me some great ideas for the training I’ll be doing! thanks so much.

  2. Ben says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Kristi.

    I enjoyed clicking on your name and spending a few minutes on your refreshingly honest blog.

    I hope you will post your own experiences with small group training as well; each group is a little different.

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