I have had the privilege of leading a small group of some sorts for the past 9 years. I started as a sophomore in high school leading a small group of 1st-3rd grade girls. I laugh about how every single week I asked those students what it meant to be born again. And every single week they truly told me how it meant you had to get back in your mom’s stomach.
Let’s just say I had a lot to learn about leading a small group!
Over the years, I have learned a lot from trial and error and a lot from excellent small group leaders who have discipled me.
As a small group leader, it is easy to fall back on the question, “What stuck out to you?” We often start out with this as a way to ease into the conversation. In my experience, this either leads to blank stares (especially from young people) or a conversation that is not very focused.
While this is by no means a bad question, it may not be the most helpful question. As a small group leader, you want to move beyond this question and lead a focused conversation.
Pick Out the Principles and the Point
As a small group leader, when I am listening to the lesson, I am trying to understand the principles and/or the main point of the lesson. If I do not understand them, then it is very hard for me to lead a small group. As I listen, I jot down the points and questions that I can ask my girls. After the lesson, I will ask the girls questions to see if they got the point of the lessons. I ask questions like:
- What was the main point of the lesson?
- Can you summarize the lesson in a sentence or two for me?
- Did you understand the lesson? If not, what didn’t you understand?
Question for Comprehension
Next, I want to ask my girls questions that help me understand whether or not they understood the lesson. I try to ask questions that cannot be answered with just a “yes” or “no.” I ask questions like:
- What did the teacher mean when he said…?
- Can you give me an example of…?
- Why do you think God says…?
Encourage the Implications
After we have talked about the main points and found out how much was comprehended, I try to help my small group understand what the implications of the lesson are in the their life. I used to tell my 1st-3rd graders it does not matter how much you know about math if you never use it. You have to be able to go to the grocery store and use your knowledge. Similarly, believers need to put arms and legs on their theology and use it in everyday life. We talk through things in small group like:
- How do I [insert principle] in my daily life?
- What prevents me from doing it?
- What Scripture will help me to do it?
My prayer is that these few questions would help you to move beyond the “what stuck out to you” question. It is important that you as a small group leader pay attention to the principles, think through questions beforehand, and help your small group to know how to live out their theology.
10 Essential Tips for Handling Group Dynamics – This is so practical for small group leaders!
The Art of Leading Well – Great principles on leading a small group.