Leading a Small Group discussion can be like trying to herd cats, but maybe the win is simply doing life together.
Here are a few tips to boost your confidence:
Remember, your goal is to create a relationally warm environment. When the leader’s focus is genuine open sharing, a warm environment happens naturally. When the leader is uptight about getting through a certain amount of questions or focusing too much on specifics, the relational warmth is compromised.
It’s probably going to be messy! People have real lives they are sharing and sometimes what is happening in their lives needs to take precedence over the discussion topic. That’s okay. We want to meet people where they are at and celebrate the win that we all shared that person’s experience together.
You don’t need to teach. In fact, your small group is NOT the place for teaching. That is the pastor’s job. Releasing yourself and your group to talk about the message application and whatever is on their hearts is much more relevant and life-changing than sharing an additional teaching.
Guiding discussion can be tricky. While open sharing is a goal, it can also get out of hand. Your job as a leader is to discern when the sharing needs to be redirected to the discussion question guide or be more focused for that time.
Try using phrases like these as needed:
- Thank you so much for sharing. As we transition to the next question, let’s take a look at the second one in your notes…
- That seems like a truly difficult situation. Can we stop and pray right now? (This ends the sharing, engages connection and allows for care to happen as a follow-up.)
- I love that we are sharing real life together. I feel we should redirect our discussion to this topic or need at this time.
Let the Holy Spirit lead you and them! It’s a two-way conversation for you as the leader. You are leading the group discussion while you are listening to the Holy Spirit guide the conversation as a whole.
Small groups are where the mission of the church is walked out in real life.
Thank you for creating an environment that makes that possible!