25 Small Group Facilitator Tips Small Groups

Bonus Facilitator Tip – Remind the Group its Okay to Disagree

Sometimes Christians think they have to agree with everyone in their small group. Part of the growth that people experience in a small group is enjoying fellowship with people that believe and act differently than they do. Learning to love those people and get along with them is a sign of spiritual maturity. From time to time, remind your group that it is okay to disagree.


25 Small Group Facilitator Tips Small Groups

Facilitator Tip #25 – Visit Other Small Groups to Learn

Facilitating a small group is more art than science. While there are certain principles small group facilitators need to follow,[ref]Some of these principles are doing the Unifying Question each week, having an apprentice/assistant/co-leader, having an Empty Chair in the group to remind everyone to pray for unsaved people, serving together at church or in the community, talking less than 25 percent of the time, starting and ending the group on time, calling someone who is part of your group and did not show up for group and did not tell anyone he wouldn’t be there, and encouraging everyone to participate in the discussion.[/ref] there are various techniques you can use.


Each facilitator is going to have his own unique style of facilitating a small group. Thus, there are things each facilitator can learn from each other. Which is a principle that Scripture also teaches.

25 Small Group Facilitator Tips Small Groups

Facilitator Tip #24 – Subgroup Your Group When You Have 9 or More People

One the goals of your small group is to have everyone actively part of a weekly discussion. You want each person talking about what he is learning, how he is applying it to his life, and how his life is changing as a result. However, once you have nine or more people in your small group meeting, it is hard to get everyone involved in the discussion, therefore you need to subgroup your small group during discussion time.

SUBGROUP WHEN YOU HAVE NINE OR MORE PEOPLE AT YOUR MEETING[ref]“Subgrouping in this way will ensure that the doors of your small group remain open to seekers and other lost souls looking for the love of Christ. Not only does it develop leaders, but it also ensures that your small group atmosphere is conducive to adding friends.” Steve Gladen, Leading Small Groups with Purpose, p. 161[/ref]

Why Subgroup Your Small Group

25 Small Group Facilitator Tips Small Groups

Facilitator Tip #23 – Hold the Snacks

An important element of every small group is to have some snacks as part of the group. Here’s how to effectively have snacks part of your small group. 

HOLD THE SNACKS Carve out some time either at the beginning or the end of your small group for snack time. Three Elements of Your Small Group There are three main elements of your small group each week. Each week you need to do the Unifying Question, read the passage for the lesson (or watch the DVD session), and then go through he questions in your study guide. These three elements need to be done in order each week. In addition to those three elements you also want to have some prayer time and time for snacks in your group. Prayer time can either be done at the beginning of your small group or at the end of your small group. When you do them is not as important as making sure that you do them each week and that you are consistent in doing them each week at the same time. Less Distractions are Better Nothing is more distracting (and irritating) than someone getting up to grab a snack, dropping some of the floor, munching, and talking with a mouthful during the small group discussion time. Here are some thoughts on the distractions that snacks create for the people eating and the people not eating. People Not Eating Get Distracted When people are eating snacks in your small group it often distracts the people that are not eating the snacks. Every time someone gets up to get more snacks or a drink it distracts the group. When people drop food on the ground or spill their drink it distracts the rest of the group. Whenever there are a group of people eating there always is “that guy” that eats with his mouth open so that everyone can hear him. Then there are times when someone opens up and is sharing some heartfelt feelings with the group, and in the middle of that sharing someone gets up to go grab more snacks, in effect saying, “my hunger is more important than your sharing.” People Eating Get Distracted The people eating snacks in your group while the group is discussing the lesson also get distracted. Every time someone gets up to get food he takes his attention off the topic and focuses on food instead. He is thinking more about the food he is eating than he is on what the topic is that the group is discussing. Eating snacks during the group often means people can’t hold a Bible and a study guide at the same time, so they have to choose between snacks or a Bible/guide. Lastly, people that are eating snacks can’t share in the discussion because their mouths are full. Why Hold the Snacks When you limit snack time in your small group to after the discussion time, it limits distractions in your group, but it also provides a good fellowship time. This is because your group gets to enjoy the study time of your group, then there is a reason to gather around the snacks for a little food and fellowship after the group. (This snack time can also be before your group if you choose it to be.) If your group has snacks try to limit those snacks to only before the group begins or after the discussion has ended.


Carve out some time either at the beginning or the end of your small group for snack time.

25 Small Group Facilitator Tips Small Groups

Facilitator Tip #22 – Pray for Your Small Group Members and Study

Pray for the members of your group every day. Pray that the curriculum you will be using will speak to your group and transform their lives to look more like Christ. Also pray that God would prepare you and your heart to facilitate a discussion that helps people grow in their faith in Jesus Christ.

Facilitator Tip 22 - Soak Your Group Members and Curriculum in Prayer


T.A.L.K. to God about Your Group

When you pray to God about your group, follow the T.A.L.K. process.

Thank God for Your Group and the People He Has Sent to You

25 Small Group Facilitator Tips Small Groups

Facilitator Tip #21 – Application Is More Important than Completion


Application Is More Important than Completion in a Small Group

“The crowning part of your task in searching the Scriptures is to discover ways the truth applies to your own life and the lives of others” Chuck Swindoll, God’s Word for You, p. 111

The Goal Is Life Change for your Group Members

25 Small Group Facilitator Tips Small Groups

Facilitator Tip #20 – How to Involve Everyone in Your Small Group

One of your goals as a small group facilitator is to get everyone involved in your group as much as possible. On the weekend people go to church and passively listen, but during the week at their small group we want them to actively discuss what they are learning and how they are growing. 

How to Involve Everyone in Your Small Group


Steve Gladen, the Small Groups Pastor at Saddleback Church has stated, “Every person in your group is an important part of the process [of discipleship]—not just the leader. The sooner your group members realize this, the healthier your group will be, and the easier your job will become” (Steve Gladen, Leading Small Groups with Purpose, p. 109). Get everyone as involved as possible in the organization of your group as well as during the discussion time.

25 Small Group Facilitator Tips Small Groups

Facilitator Tip #19 – Ensure Everyone Understands the Purpose of the Group

Sometimes people go to a group and try to make a group be what they want it to be. Some people want to be part of a group focused on prayer, so they try to have a lot of prayer in your group. Some people want to study the Bible and theology, so that is all they think your group should spend its time on. Other people want to have Christian friends and experience fellowship, so they only want to enjoy time with others and have no interest in Bible study or prayer time. 

Facilitator Tip 19 - Ensure Everyone Understands the Purpose of the Group from Day One


Yet, as a LIFEGroup, we want to have a balance of several areas. Your job as a facilitator is to ensure your group touches on the different elements that each small group needs to have. It reminds me of a story from the book of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah Sets the Pace and Direction for His Ministry

25 Small Group Facilitator Tips Small Groups

Facilitator Tip #18 – Review a Group Agreement Yearly

A group agreement guides the group and helps ensure a healthy atmosphere for discussion and spiritual growth. Be sure to review it yearly and give it to the new people that join your group.


What Is a “Covenant” in the Bible?

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Facilitator Tip #17 – Begin and End on Time

John Calvin was a Swiss reformer and contemporary to the well-known Martin Luther (Calvin is twenty-six years younger than Martin Luther).

In the city of Geneva, jewelers and goldsmiths made crucifixes, chalices, and other items that people were reverent to and sometimes even worshipped. When John Calvin had political influence in the city of Geneva, one thing he instituted was a Consistoire, or “ecclesiastical court.” This “court” got rid of jewelers and goldsmiths making crucifixes, chalices, and other instruments serving papacy and idolatry. However, John Calvin allowed the clockmakers to stay.

In John Calvin’s mind, timeliness was a virtue because a Christian was not supposed to let minutes go unused for the Lord. In Calvin’s theology, every Christian would have to give an account to God for every moment of his life, and the personal clock was a way to help Christians make the most of the time they had.[ref]Jennifer McNutt, and David Lauber, The People’s Book, p. 100.[/ref]

Similar to John Calvin and his reverence for time, you too, as a small group facilitator, need to make the most of the time you have in your group meetings. However, be sure to begin and end on time.


Starting and Ending on Time Is Your Responsibility as the Facilitator

As the small group facilitator, you are the leader of your group. The king of Israel, David, reminds us about the limited time we have and how we must make the most of it,