Archive for the small group leadership Category

How to encourage others to “step up” and help you lead your small group!

Posted in Discipleship, Evangelism, Leadership, small group leadership, Uncategorized on November 15, 2018 by mikekeaton

One way to guarantee burnout and discouragement as a Small Group Leader is is to do everything for your small group by yourself without any help.  So, how do you get others to step up and take on some responsibility for the group?  Here are several key ways you can guarantee long term success in developing others:

  1. First, Pray! – I know, I know…sounds very “christian-eze” like and cliche too.  BUT…you simply cannot underestimate the power of prayer.  The Lord says, “we have not because we ask not”.  So, ask the Lord to give you fellow laborers in this disciple making harvest called Small Groups!
  2. Ask someone! -Seems obvious right?!  Here is some clarity – ask someone specifically, face to face!  I heard a leadership talk once where the speaker said, “leaders don’t usually respond to the ‘all-call’, they like to be asked personally”.  When you ask, give them clear guidelines, a timeline, a definitive role, specific tasks, let them know they will not be out there by themselves, but you will walk alongside them to encourage, support, help, and coach.  Be clear.
  3. Start small! – Jesus said, “he who is faithful with little will be rewarded with much”.  Don’t shoot for the moon right away and try to land the next leader for the new group that is going to branch off of yours.  Assign a simple task or responsibility, like prayer time (leading it or just taking down the requests and emailing them out to the group after the meeting), or the opening icebreaker question, or taking attendance, or planning the next fun event, dinner, or service project.  Keep it simple, check on progress, offer to help, and evaluate and give feedback afterward.
  4. Create positions! – Make a position out each of the 5 elements of a healthy small group as seen in this diagram:   5elementsofahealthySGThen, share it with the group, so they can see and understand the different components of a group, then, make the “BIG ASK” of individuals. You can also consider the 5 different purposes of the church as positions, which are closely related: they are as follows: Evangelism, Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, and Ministry.
  5. Use Giftings! – God has uniquely gifted each person in your group so that the whole benefits and actually grows in God’s love as they use their spiritual gift. Let Holy Spirit work through His Word by planning a study on Ephesians 4:11-16 for your group. Pass out a spiritual gifts test for each person to complete in group or take our online version.  Their spiritual gifting will help you know who could teach, or take care of hospitality, or any other position.
  6. Practice! Practice! – At some point you need to just let someone lead.  To use a sports analogy, ‘you have to let them get some reps’!  They are not going to do it like you would or even prefer, but you have to let them do it.  They will only get better by doing it, you debriefing with them for encouragement and correction, and them trying again.
  7. Consider all! -Sometimes, the best leader is the one you’re not considering! A couple of tried and true grids for identifying potential leaders are the 3 C’s and the F.A.T. acrostic.  Do they have Character, Competency, and Chemistry and are they Faithful, Available, and Teachable?

Developing disciple-making leaders takes time, dont get discouraged and dont give up.  Keep the mission in focus and in front of your group members.  Cast the vision that your group is not a ‘holy huddle’, but a mission driven environment to grow groups, people, and leaders for God’s Kingdom and His Church!


How to facilitate meaningful small group discussions.

Posted in Discipleship, Leadership, small group leadership on October 16, 2018 by mikekeaton

Every small group leader wants to lead a great group discussion and every small group leader has experienced the discussion that didn’t go so well!  So, how do you lead or facilitate a meaningful discussion?

Before getting into the specifics, here are two basic ‘rules of thumb’ to keep in mind…

*think facilitate not lead – its a discussion not a lecture

*the larger the group, the more difficult the discussion, or, the smaller the group the better the discussion.

Lets compare leading a meaningful discussion to a airplane flight!  There is the pre-flight, take-off, climbing to altitude, cruising speed, final descent, and landing the plane.


During pre-flight a lot is happening but most of it is related to ‘preparation’. To the small group leader ‘preparing a plan’ is key to a meaningful discussion. How does a small group leader prepare a plan?    Pray, study, and pray…in that order!


The take off can be the most exciting and the most nerve wracking few minutes at the same time.  For the small group leader a good start sets the pace for the rest of the time. A good start involves using a good ‘ice-breaker’.  The goal is to loosen-em up by getting them laughing and talking.

Climbing, Cruising, and the Descent

The climb, cruising, and descent parts of the flight are all about the ‘lesson’. The lesson has an intro, body, and conclusion. The intro is about connecting to their heart with motivation, the body is about connecting to the head with information, and the conclusion is about connecting to their hands with application.

*Motivate them with some praise, scripture, and worship. (Read a Psalm and ask for ‘popcorn praises’ then open with prayer)

*Inform them with a Bible discussion not a bible study.  Involve them in the discussion by asking great questions.  Ask ‘why’ and ‘how’, use ‘explain’, ‘discuss’, and ‘share’, say ‘tell us about’ instead of ‘what’ or ‘yes/no’ kinds of questions. If you’re using a lesson guide with questions, look for segways in the conversation to ‘facilitate’ from one point to the next and DO NOT just read the questions one after the other!

*Apply the lesson to them by helping them know what to do with it. Help them define their “I will”.  “Because of the lesson, this week, I will ________________!”


Everybody likes a smooth landing.  End your group with varied prayer experiences.  For example: 1) share needs and then ask who will pray for John’s request, and then ask who will pray for Sarah’s request, etc., then have them pray outloud in the same order then you close, 2) pass out cards and have everyone write down their requests (saves time in a large group), put them in a hat or basket then have each draw a card and that’s their prayer focus for the week, 3) subdivide the group by men and women for prayer, 4) ask for one volunteer to pray to close (could be a clue to a potential leader).  There is no shortage to ideas of how to use varied prayer experiences for a smooth end to your great group discussion-be creative!

Each of these parts of the small group discussion are skills that take time to develop but with intentionality, patience, and perseverance.  You can become a facilitator of great discussions that will make them want to come back!!

Share your ideas of something I left out or, share your best practice to facilitate a great group discussion?

…see what I did there? 😉