Guidelines for Effective Small Groups
Small groups are a vital aspect of the Church. In the context of small groups, believers are able to build community and live out the gospel within a relational environment. The following Guidelines for Effective Small Groups comes from Disciple SC, a framework for pastors and church leaders to help their congregation make disciples. These “Ground Rules” help ensure that small group members feel comfortable enough to share, be heard, and, most importantly, to hear from God as He speaks to and through others.
SAFE GROUP: We will all do our part to create an environment where everyone can be real, open, and honest with their struggles and victories.
CONFIDENTIALLY: What is said in the group stays in the group.
LISTEN: Let’s value one another during the discussions by really listening to what is being shared. Try to avoid thinking about how you are going to respond or what you are going to say next.
PAUSE: Allow a pause in conversation after someone shares to give the person sharing the chance to finish and the group the opportunity to consider what was just shared before responding.
SILENCE: It is important to allow silence in the group as it provides an opportunity for someone to share and for members in the group to process the topic or question being considered.
NO “CROSS TALK”: Be considerate of others as they are sharing. No side conversations.
NO FIXING: We are not here to fix each other. Jesus does that part. Give encouragement, speak truth, and point to Jesus. Don’t try to solve or fix each other.
NO RESCUING: When people are sharing something deeply personal, there can be a tendency to try to make them feel better about themselves or the situation by providing immediate condolences. This will often cause them to stop sharing. Resist the temptation to rescue people.
SHARING: Be sensitive about the amount of time you share.
BE SELF-AWARE: Be self-aware of how you are personally affecting the environment through your words, actions, and non-verbal communication.
USE “I” STATEMENTS: It’s easy to talk about the issues of others, but for our purposes, we want you to put yourself on the table. Try to use “I” statements rather than “them,” “the church,” “us,” “we,” etc.
CONFLICT: We will commit to resolving conflict biblically. When conflict or sin issues between group members arise, we want to make sure that we are honoring God and each other in the way we deal with these issues.
Click below to download a PDF of these Guidelines for Effective Small Groups.