In my early years of serving as a small groups pastor I often would talk to a person interested in joining a small group, refer him to the small group facilitator, then would find out that no one showed up for the group. Thus, I developed these ten tips because several of our groups had ten people sign up to be part of a group, then when the group was ready to start only two people showed up the first night.
Following these ten tips will increase the amount of people that show up for your small group.
SHARPEN YOUR FACILITATION SKILLS
“Do your planning and prepare your fields before
building your house.” ~ Prov 24:27
There are many different elements to a healthy small group. While you might select solid curriculum and provide tasty snacks, if you are a poor facilitator people will visit and not come back to your group. Here are a few basic tips to sharpen your facilitation skills.
The well known college basketball coach Bobby Knight once said, “I don’t believe in luck, I believe in preparation.” This is how you prepare to facilitate a verse-by-verse Bible study and a topical DVD study.
How to Prepare to Facilitate a Verse-by-Verse Bible Study.
If you are doing a Bible study in your group that goes verse-by-verse through a book of the Bible, there’s a few basic steps you want to follow to prepare for your group.
- Pray about your study and pray for your group.
- Read the Scripture passage for that week several times so you can become familiar with it.
- Answer the questions provided to you in the Bible study guide.
- Consult the commentary provided to you to help you better facilitate a discussion.
How to Prepare to Facilitate a Topical DVD Study.
Some groups prefer to use a DVD teaching as part of their small group curriculum. This DVD teaching means your preparation will look slightly different than a verse-by-verse Bible study.
- Pray for your group and for what your group is going to study.
- Watch the DVD session before your group meeting.
- Answer the questions in the study guide.
- If there are passages referenced in the study guide look those up in a good study Bible[ref]I recommend the following study Bibles in order of preference: Wiersbe Study Bible (New King James Version), Swindoll Study Bible (New Living Translation), Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version or King James Version), ESV Study Bible (English Standard Version), or the NIV Study Bible (New International Version).[/ref] or commentary so that you have a feel for their context and meaning.
- Read the “session notes” provided in the back of the study guide.
As a small group facilitator it is important to remember that you don’t preach or teach, your job is to facilitate. The preaching and teaching happens at church over the weekend; facilitating and discussing happens during the week at people’s homes in small groups. As a general rule, you should talk less than 25 percent of the time. Furthermore, the larger your group gets, the less you should be talking. As a small group facilitator your goal is to help people read God’s Word, discuss what it means, and help people apply it to their lives. Furthermore, you should follow up with them in the future about how they have applied what they learned to their lives.
At first you might think, “Oh it will be easy to facilitate a small group. I can take care of it and do it all myself. No biggie.” But once you get your group going you realize there are a lot of small details that go into running a healthy small group.
As a facilitator you want to focus as much time and attention as possible on facilitating the discussion of the group. As a result you need to delegate some of the other duties of the group. Instead of having the group at your home, maybe you let someone else host the group at their home so that you don’t have to clean your house every week. Instead of cooking dinner and buying snacks for the group every week, pass around a sign up list and have everyone bring snacks for small group. Instead of sending a text message and email to your whole group each week about what the assignment for the week is, let someone else in the group do that. Instead of keeping track of all the prayer requests each week, maybe you should let someone else in the group coordinate the prayer time.
The idea here is that you try to focus as much of your limited attention and time as possible on the most important element of the small group, facilitating the discussion.
People might struggle with wanting to open up their lives, getting along with others, or reading the Bible. But if you are skilled and a good facilitator, your people will share with the group and want to keep coming back to your small group.