Archives For Facilitator Tips

The goal of facilitating a small group discussion is to get the group to talk together. The best way to foster a discussion-based environment is to put the chairs and couches in a circle. While this might seem simple, I have seen some small group facilitators overlook this simple step. Let me explain more. 

Facilitator Tip 12 - Put the Chairs and Couches in a Circle


Nothing says “let’s talk” like a bunch of people in a circle looking at each other.

Circles versus Rows

When people are in rows, it encourages them to listen to a teacher. When people are in a circle, it encourages them to listen to each other and talk. A circle fosters a discussion environment which is what the LIFEGroups at our church are all about (a facilitator should talk less than 25 percent of the time).

If Using a DVD, Move the Chairs

If your group is using a DVD-based curriculum such as the studies produced by Chip Ingram and Living on the Edge, you might want to place a half circle facing the TV. Then after the DVD is done, you as the facilitator can move your chair to the position where the TV is. This saves room in the space you are using and allows you to easily see everyone in the group.

Ensure New People Have a Good Seat in the Circle

One of the elements of our LIFEGroups at Rocky Hill Community Church is for each group to have an “empty chair.” This is a literal “empty chair” that each group should have as a reminder for the group to pray for the unsaved people in their lives. And, it is a reminder that when someone shows up for the group, there should be an empty chair for the person to sit in. However, new people visiting your group most likely will be a little shy and take a seat that might be on the outside or not within the circle. Make sure the new person feels welcome to the group and that he has a good seat within the circle of the group next to everyone else.

Today’s post is about helping small group facilitators prepare to facilitate a good discussion and lead a healthy small group study.

Facilitator Tip 11 - Watch the Study How-to Videos on YouTube


I do my best to create a brief video for each small group study that our church. Here are a few of my recent ones:

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In this book on Bible study Warren Wiersbe writes, “Preparation for labor is as important as the labor itself” (The Delights and Disciplines of Bible Studyp. 80). As you facilitate a small group you need to do everything you can to prepare to facilitate a discussion of the people in your group. 

Facilitator Tip 10 - Watch the Leader Coaching Videos


If your group is using a DVD study, often there are some coaching videos on the DVDs (or available online). Continue Reading…

I am continuing my series of blog posts giving tips for small group facilitators. 

Facilitator Tip 9 - Read the Notes in the Back of the Discussion Guide


Most small group discussion guides will have some “leader notes” in the back of the guide to help the facilitator know what to expect during the discussion each week and how to prepare for the discussion. Be sure to read those notes during your preparation time for your small group (it is best to look at these notes after you have already worked through the lesson on your own). Continue Reading…

If there is one piece of coaching that I give to the small group leaders I serve with it is that they need to talk less. Yes, talk less! As a small group facilitator their role is to get other people to talk. Here’s another tip in my series for small group facilitators. 

Facilitator Tip 8 - Talk Less Than 25 Percent of the Time


The number 25 percent is probably too high for many of our small groups. In 2018 I evaluated several aspects of our LIFEGroups ministry at Rocky Hill Community Church. And one thing that stood out to me was that out of the twenty LIFEGroups at our church, ten of them had three to six people in them. Meaning, 50 percent of our small groups at church had three to six people in them. With that said, I started with the 25 percent rule, but the percentage should be smaller as the group gets larger. For example, if your group has ten people in it, then you should talk less than 10 percent of the time.

Learning: Instilling the Word of God

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Part of the role of a small group facilitator or Sunday School teacher is to affirm what people say. Not everyone is going to always have the correct theological biblical answer to every question you ask. So, here’s a few tips for affirming what people say in your small group.  

Facilitator Tip 7 - Affirm What People Say


Let people know what they say makes sense and is a good contribution by thanking them for sharing. It takes courage to speak up and talk in a small group.

How to NOT Affirm What People Say

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This article was significantly revised submitted for publication at New Identity Magazine. I’ll post a link to the article if they accept it. 

Great Study Bibles

Which study Bible you have is not as important as the fact that you have one which you regularly use. I recommend the following study Bibles:

When I facilitate various small group Bible studies I have found it helpful to keep a paper Bible nearby and ready. I know that I can read any version of the Bible that I want from a tablet or phone, but there is something special about reading the Bible from a paper Bible. In this week’s facilitator tip, I want to encourage you to always have a Bible within reach when you facilitate a small group. 

Facilitator Tip 5 - Always Have a Bible Within Reach


 “The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed.” ~ Patrick Henry

A paper Bible limits distractions and there is something special about reading from a real paper Bible versus a Bible on a phone or tablet. “The Word of God is a weapon Satan cannot overcome, but our responsibility is to know it, obey it, and trust it” (Warren Wiersbe, The Delights and Disciplines of Bible Study, p. 227). Therefore we should have one nearby at all times ready for reference and use.

L is for Learning: Instilling the Word of God

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Sometimes people make statements or ask questions and it can be hard to discern what exactly they are saying or asking. A good assistant will be assertive to step in and say, “I think what you are asking is actually _____” or “I think what she is trying to say is___.” Make sure your assistant knows that it is okay to speak up and when he does, thank him.

We live in an era when phones are the most distracting item in our lives. If you’re like me you’ve been to out to lunch with someone and every couple minutes he’s looking at his phone, his iWatch, or some other tech device. Within your small group, do your best to encourage people to turn their phones off. That’s the facilitator tip for this week. Here’s how to go about doing that.

Facilitator Tip 3 - Turn Your Phone Off


Your focus needs to be on your group and guiding their discussion, so turn the phone off so you can concentrate.

Example It

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