Helpful Tips For LifeGroup Hosts
May 10, 2021 | by Mike Prah
HELPFUL TIPS FOR SMALL GROUP HOSTS
Congratulations! As the host of your small group, you have responded to the call to help shepherd Jesus' flock. Few other tasks in the family of God surpass the contribution you will be making.
As you prepare to facilitate your group, whether one session or the entire series, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind. Remember, you are not alone. God knew you would be facilitating this group before you thought about it, and even though you may not feel ready, God promises, "I will never leave you, I will never abandon you" (Hebrews 13:5, GN). God will bless you as you serve Him and His people.
Be friendly and be yourself
God wants to use your unique gifts and temperament. Be sure to greet people as they come in with a big smile. This can set the mood for the whole gathering. Remember, they are taking a big step as you are to show up at your house! Admit when you don't have an answer, and apologize when you make a mistake. Your group will love you for it, and you'll sleep better at night.
Prepare for your meeting ahead of time
Take some time before the meeting and go over the discussion points. Write down your responses to each question. For most groups, there are too many questions in this discussion guide chapter to answer in one session. After considering the needs of your group, you may choose to select a few questions from each section.
Pray for your group members by name
Before you begin each session, take a few moments and pray for each member by name. The dynamic of your group will be different if you pray for your members. Ask God to use your time together to touch the heart of every person in your group. During your group meetings, if a situation arises that necessitates prayer, stop right there and ask the group to pray. Make prayer a foundation.
Don't try to do it alone
You may be perfectly capable of hosting each time, but you will help others grow in their faith and gifts if you give others the opportunity to host the group. So consider rotating facilitators occasionally, and think about finding a co-leader. Jesus sent people out two by two to do ministry (Luke 10:1). It will help shoulder the responsibility, and your group will be encouraged. All you have to do is ask people to help. You'll be surprised at the response.
Connect with group members between weekly meetings
There is something so powerful about a small group leader calling or texting a group member to check on how their day or week is going. Also, encourage your group members to connect with each other in-between meetings to encourage, pray and foster relationships.
Respect people's time
Begin and end on time. Set clear expectations and do your best to stick to them.
When you ask a question, be patient
Someone will eventually respond. Sometimes people need a moment or two of silence to think about the question or gather their thoughts before they speak. Avoid the urge to preach. Small group is a discussion-style Bible study. After someone responds, affirm the response with a simple "thanks" or "great answer." Then ask, "How about somebody else?" or "Would someone who hasn't shared like to add anything?" Be sensitive to reluctant members who aren't ready to say, pray, or do anything. If you give them a safe setting, they will blossom over time. Let them know how important they are to the group—that they are loved and appreciated and that the group would value their input. Remember, a person who seems quiet or shy may surprise you by knowing a lot or having deep feelings.
Provide transitions between questions
Ask if anyone, perhaps someone who has not shared, would like to read the Bible passage, paragraph or question. Don't call on anyone, but ask for a volunteer, and then be patient until someone begins. Be sure to thank the person who reads aloud. Find gentle ways to quieten or refocus over-dominant people.
Laugh. Create an enjoyable, memorable environment. The Bible says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine" (Proverbs 17:22, NIV). Don't be too rigid. Give space for engagement and relationships to form.
Read the following Scriptures as a devotional exercise
Before your first opportunity to lead, read the following scriptures as a devotional exercise to help prepare you with a shepherd's heart. Trust me on this one. If you do this, you will be more than ready for your meeting.
"When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field" Matthew 9:36-38 (NIV)
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep" John 10:14-15 (NIV)
"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away" 1 Peter 5:2-4 (NIV)
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus" Philippians 2:1-5 (NIV)
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching" Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)
"Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well … For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory" 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, 11-12 (NIV)