^ ^ Advertisements are not endorsed by Dave Weidlich ^ ^
Previous PagePrevious Page

Big Results...


Community Building

Adoration of God

Learning God's Word

Mission and Outreach







Cooper Mountain Presbyterian Fellowship

Getting BIG Results with Small Groups

a Small Group Leaders Training Manual Web Sample by Rev. David Weidlich, Pastor, Cooper Mountain Presbyterian Fellowship

It All Starts with Leadership

The success of a Small Group depends on its leader(s).

Characteristics of an Effective Small Group Leader

An effective Small Group Leader...

1. Maintains a personal relationship with Christ that models the love of Christ and the power of God's Word in daily life.

Personal relationship with Christ: You have acknowledged your sinfulness and trusted in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all your sins. You are experiencing some measure of the abundant life Christ came to give us.

Models the love of Christ: Your relationships with spouse, children, neighbors, co- workers...is characterized by the love Christ displays for both saints and sinners.

Models...power of God's Word in daily life: You constantly strive for obedience to the commands and principles of God's Word. You consistently practice the spiritual disciplines, such as personal Bible study, prayer, community, worship, tithing.

Before you can manage others, you must first manage yourself.

An effective Small Group Leader...

2. Has the ability to influence people for Christ.

You have the ability to organize people to do the work of God. (You're not doing all the work yourself) Let's face it. Some people are natual-born leaders. Others learn to lead. And others are doing well just to follow. That's okay. But every Small Group will have a leader. If it's not you, the designated leader, it will be someone else. We want that leader to be you.

"There are only three kinds of people in this world--those who are movable, those who are unmovable, and those that move them." -Li Hung Chang, quoted by Gen. Charles Gordon

He who thinks he leads, and has no one following him, is only taking a walk. -John Maxwell

There is power in leadership-power to influence people. Christian leaders recognize their power is God-given and must be used responsibly.

Christian leadership is servant leadership.

  • under the authority of Christ.
  • under the authority of this church's leaders.

A servant-leader recognizes God has placed him/her in a group to serve the needs of the group's members. Sometimes, this is difficult to exercise in a Small Group. You will need to maintain a constant balance between speaking and listening.

"Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant."

-Jesus in Matthew 20:26

An effective Small Group Leader...

3. Is committed to personal growth.

We need FAT people: Faithful, Available and Trainable. You don't have to be all the way there yet. You can learn on the job-from our leadership seminars, ongoing leadership meetings, from veteran leaders and from your group members.

Small groups mean different things in different settings. If you've led a group before, it's important that you be willing to learn and follow the way we do small groups in our setting.

Take advantage of training opportunities our church offers:

New Leaders Training Seminars

Small Group Leaders Conference

Ongoing Leaders meetings

Off-site training events from Fuller, Serendipity, and others.

...and the training you can expect to receive through personal preparation to lead each group meeting--and what you'll learn from your small group members!

An effective Small Group Leader...

4. Is filled with the Holy Spirit.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery .Instead, be filled with the Spirit. -Ephesians 5:18

The Holy Spirit...

  • enables us to discern the truth (John 14:26; 15:26)
  • works fruit within us-love, joy, peace... (Galatians 5:22f)
  • provides us with certain spiritual gifts for ministry (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12).

It will be most helpful if you have one or more of the following spiritual gifts:





The great thing about a small group is a variety of spiritual gifts are represented. Your role is to organize and lead in such a way that all believers are encouraged and have opportunity to use their spiritual gifts.

Some churches feel it is important to exercise a high level of control on all their small groups, lest their groups get carried away and stray from the truth. We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to lead all willing believers into the truth and away from error. We exercise a moderate level of control-providing training, study guides, networking and support.

The Bible is our text.

The Holy Spirit is our teacher.

You are the facilitator-to bring them all together in your group.

An effective Small Group Leader...

5. Counts the cost of commitment, and willingly pays the price.

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? -Luke 14:28

· Do I have the maturity in Christ to lead a Small Group?

  • Do I have the ability to lead a Small Group?
  • Will I commit the time to prepare for each small group meeting, attend our small group's meetings, and attend the leadership meetings?
  • Is my spouse willing to make this commitment?

Obstacles to Effective Leadership

  • Wrong motives for leadership
  • A sense of inadequacy
  • A fear of failure
  • Discouragement and disappointment
  • Being or appearing spiritually dry
  • Unrealistic schedule
  • Poor handling of relational conflicts
  • Conflicts with authority
  • Undue focus on attendance

Small Group Leaders Manual

Four Leadership Styles *

*Adapted from The Small Group Leaders Training Course by Dr. Judy Hamlin. Navpress, 1990.

Autocratic Leadership Style

  • Maintains total control. Group members are listeners and followers.
  • Determines goals and policies alone
  • The content takes precedence over the process
  • Makes all group decisions
  • Talks too much
  • Attention is on self
  • Asks and answers questions

This style of leadership is helpful in a time of crisis, like war. It's also appropriate for parents with infants.

This is not an appropriate leadership style for a Small Group.

Authoritative Leadership Style

  • Maintains strong control, yet actively involves members in the discussion
  • Has a definite purpose and plan, but is open to modification
  • Is active and energetic, and seeks the involvement of others
  • Is prepared to give necessary direction and support
  • Uses communication skills to involve others
  • Takes responsibility until others can assume it
  • Uses personal power to empower others
  • Prepares and asks questions, then elicits members' responses

This style of leadership is appropriate when the leader is clearly the most knowledgeable person.

This style of leadership is helpful in the beginning stages of a Small Group. As the group matures, flexibility and sensitivity become imperative.

Democratic Leadership Style

  • Shares control with members
  • Shares leadership responsibility
  • Believes in other people
  • Creates a sense of security and belonging
  • Ensures that others have leadership opportunities-even to lead the group, if appropriate.
  • Makes certain that if he/she withdraws, the group can go on
  • Sees that the group discusses all policies
  • Believes the Holy Spirit can speak in and through all believers

This style of leadership is best when all group members have a similar amount of resources, training and experience.

This is the most appropriate leadership style for a Small Group.

Laissez-Faire Leadership Style

  • Exercises minimum control, allowing members to direct
  • Doesn't prepare; lets discussion drift
  • Doesn't seem to care
  • Causes the group to accomplish very little
  • Encourages fragmentation through lack of discipline.
  • Makes no attempt to regulate events
  • Lacks courage in making plans
  • Asks questions, then is silent.

This style is really not leadership at all. The vacuum allows a domineering member to take charge.

For Reflection:

My group leadership style tends to be ______________________________.

Starting a Small Group From Scratch

What Will Be Provided For You:

The Holy Spirit will pave the way. God has put in people a hunger for God, hunger for relationships with each other.

Gallup- 30% of Americans are in some kind of small group, many with churches. People have a basic need to belong. Let them belong to your group.

We can help you by pre-selling through our newsletter, brochures, bulletin, perhaps a sermon, signs, reputation, word of mouth, etc.

The Adult Ministries office will provide some prospects: names, addresses and phone numbers. We will also provide you with letterhead, stationary, brochures, business cards and other material for you to use in your promotion of your group. We also have a seven minute video on the Parish Life ministry that may be helpful to you.

What You'll Need to Provide:

  • Firm conviction and resolve
  • Energy
  • Time

Seven Steps For Starting A Group

1. Pray.

  • Pray for your own readiness to take on this challenge.
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will work in people to prepare them for your contact.
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you to people who will come.

2. As you continue to pray, make a list of people God puts on your heart to invite to your group. This list and the list provided by the Adult Ministries Department-is your prospect list.

3. Plan an informal one-time social event at your house, or wherever you plan to meet. You might plan a supper, barbecue or a dessert. It's a good idea, if you want to have your small group meet on a Tuesday night, to plan your social event on a Tuesday night.

4. Invite prospects to your social event (or send invitations). Let them know that you're getting people together to explore the idea of starting a small group Bible study. They don't need to commit to the small group Bible study. Just ask them to come to your social event to learn more about it.

5. Towards the end of your social event, take about fifteen minutes to gather people together for your presentation. Explain what small group ministry has done for you. Tell them the four objectives of your small group (BACO). Be optimistic, enthusiastic. Ask them if they would like to be involved in this kind of group. Find a suitable time and place to meet (within the options that work for you) and set your first Small Group meeting. Invite them all to come and bring a friend. Get some kind of response from each one (response card or verbal).

6. Once you've set the time and place for your first meeting, get the word out. Call, visit and write to all your prospects, including those who didn't attend the social event. Be sure you include clear instructions on how to find your place. Pray for a successful first meeting.

7. Prepare yourself to lead the first meeting. This first meeting is the most important one. Carefully plan your agenda. Gather any necessary materials. Plan your room arrangement so everyone can be seated in a circle. Make your meeting place visible and welcoming. First impressions are important, so minimize any frustration in finding your place.

You're there! Take a deep breath, exhale a prayer and GO!

Contacting Prospects

The Most effective form of contact:

1. Face-To-Face Contact

Get to know them. Ask them about their family, occupations, other non-threatening issues. The home environment will give you clues. ("Oh, I see you have a cocker spaniel. We love cockers...") Ask them how they like FOPC. Ask, "have you been able to make some friends at church?" (usually No) Tell them how you have developed friendships with others in your area through your small group. Tell them about your group- the good things you expect to take place and the details-when, where, etc. Tell them that it's a great way to grow in relationship with God and others, to study the Bible in a way that is personal and practical, and to find and provide support. Assure them that they can just visit the group without any obligation to join. They will not be put on the spot or embarrassed about lack of Bible knowledge (be sure you keep this promise). Be sure you get to the bottom line: "Will you come?"

Getting a person to say "yes" to your group works best if you establish momentum first with lesser questions to which it is easy to answer "yes." So you start with small, easy commitments. Then work up to larger commitments as your relationship grows and trust develops.

Start with, "Small Groups are small groups that meet in homes to study the Bible in a way that deals with real-life issues. Does this idea appeal to you?"

"If we have a group near you that fits into your schedule, would you be interested in visiting it?"

"Will you join us next Tuesday night?"

"May I come by and pick you up?" (now they're committing to come)

(Once there) "Will you commit for six weeks?"

(Week six) "Would you commit for the rest of this season?"

Be sure you do not overstay your welcome. Tell them up front how much time you'd like to spend with them and stick to it. Be sensitive to non-verbal cues.

Dear _______,

Sorry we missed you. We wanted to personally invite you to visit our next Small Group meeting. Our next meeting will be (Date, time) at (address). Please come. Feel free to call if you have any questions (phone).


If you visit and no one's home, leave a note and brochure about Small Groups. You can use the Small Leaders Business card for a note. You might say...

The next most effective form of contact:

2. Telephone Contact (often necessary to arrange face-to-face)

In addition-another form of contact:

3. Cards and Notes make good follow-up. They are less effective alone.

Some ideas-When you don't know what to say...

Dear _______.

The fall season is upon us and it's time to start our Small Group again. We're looking forward to a wonderful time of fellowship, Bible study, discussion and prayer. We'll be meeting every-other-week (Dates, time) at (address).

Feel free to call if you have any questions (phone).


...when writing to group members to start a new season:

Dear _______,

We'd like to introduce ourselves. We are ____________________ from Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church. We'd like to invite you to our Small Group which meets in your area. We meet every-other-week in our home for fellowship, Bible study, discussion and prayer. We'd be delighted if you would come and visit us. Once you've visited our group, you can decide if it's for you. Our next meeting will be (Date, time) at (address) .

Feel free to call if you have any questions (phone).


...when writing to a prospect:

(include a Small Groups brochure)

MAKE THIS YOUR GOAL: 5 contacts with each new person.

How many sales calls (face-to-face) must be made before a sale can be consummated?

2% of sales closed with one sales call
3%... two sales calls
4%... three sales calls
10%.. four sales calls

81%... five or more sales calls

-Jay Conrad Levinson


What to do with Children

Option 1: Baby-sitting in a separate large room

Pro: This makes it easier for the first-timer to come

Less expensive for all as all share the cost of child care

Con: Takes some extra planning by leaders (or delegate this)

If your house does not have a large enough separate room for children, use another house nearby.

If you don't want to hire child care workers, group members may care for the children on a rotating basis.

Option 2: Meet at the church when child care is already provided

Pro: Professional child care is provided at no cost to your group members.

Con: You lose the cozy, informal home atmosphere.

Please call the FOPC Child care Coordinator to reserve for the number of children you expect. FOPC Child care is for ages 0-10. Child care is provided Sunday nights and Tuesday-Thursday nights.

Option 3: Include the children in your group

Pro: No special child care help is needed.

Con: Group will have to be geared to children, adults will lose some benefits. Those without children may not have the patience for this option.

Option 4: Every family for themselves

Pro: Leaders don't have to worry about anyone but there own kids

Con: Many potential members may not make it to the first meeting.

The easier you make it to come to the first meetings, the more likely you are of obtaining a commitment.

There's more! To order the full 70+ page manual (hard-copy notebook--English only). The notebook also includes a disk with several powerpont presentations that can be used to present this information. Click HERE to Order this Training Manual now.


This document maintained by David Weidlich. Material Copyright ©2001 David Weidlich

Contents | Church Resources Home | Cooper Mountain Presbyterian Fellowship HOME

Previous PagePrevious Page