Bible Bites : Top Ten Ideas for New Hosts of a Small Group

Last summer I met with a few of my friends every Monday evening at Starbucks for a book club.  We all read The Hole In Our Gospel together.  It is now one of my all time favorite books.  It came with an Interactive Study Guide called The Hole In Our Gospel Six-Week Quest.  I loved the layout and thoughtful questions in this guide.  In the beginning of the guide it has some great tips on hosting a book club, small group or Bible Study.  If you are considering asking some friends to read a book or start a study together, way to go!  It takes courage to start a group!  Here is a bit of advice and encouragement for new hosts or a nice refresher for old hosts! 

Top Ten Ideas for New 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.

1.  Remember you are not alone.  God knows everything about you, and He knew you would be asked to facilitate your group.  Even thoughyou may not feel ready, this is common for all good hosts. God promises, “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5 TEV). Whether you are facilitating for one evening, several weeks, or a lifetime, you will be blessed as you serve.

2.Others are there to help you. Pray right now for God to help you build a healthy team. If you can enlist a co-host to help you with the group, you will find your experience much richer. This is your chance to involve as many people as you can in building a healthy group. All you have to do is ask people to help. You’ll be surprised at the response.

3. Be friendly and be yourself. God wants to use your unique gifts and tempement. Be sure to greet people at the door with a big smile. This can set the mood for the whole gathering. Remember, they are taking as big a step to show up! Don’t try to do things exactly like another host; do them in a way that fits you. 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.

4. Prepare for your meeting ahead of time. Review the sessions. Write done your responses to each question. Pay special attention to exercises that ask group members to do something other than engage in discussion. These exercises will help your group live what the Bible teaches, not just talk about it. Be sure you understand how an exercise works.

5. Pray for your group members by name. Before you begin you session, take a few moments and pray for each member by name. You may want to review the prayer list at least once a week. Ask God to use your time together to touch the heart of every person in your group. Expect God to lead you to whomever he wants you to encourage or challenge in a special way. If you listen, God will surely lead.

6. 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. If silence doesn’t bother you, it won’t bother anyone else. 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 new people or reluctant members who aren’t ready to say, pray, or do anything. If you give them a safe setting, they will blossom over time. If someone in your group is a “wall flower” who sits silently through every session, consider talking to them privately and encouraging them to participate. Let them know how important they are to you — that they are loved and appreciated, and that the group would value their input.

7. Provide transitions between questions. Ask if anyone would like to read the paragraph or Bible passage. 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.

8. Break into smaller groups occasionally. With a greater opportunity to talk in a small circle, people will connect more with the study, apply more quickly what they’re learning, and ultimately get more out of their small group experience. A small circle also encourages a quiet person to participate and tends to minimize the effects of a more vocal or dominate member. Small circles are also helpful during prayer time. People who are unaccustomed to praying aloud will feel more comfortable trying it with just two or three others. Also, prayer requests won’t take as much time, so circles will have more time to actually pray. When you gather back with the whole group, you can have one person from each circle briefly update everyone on the prayer requests from their sub-groups. The other great aspect of sub-grouping is that it fosters leadership development. As you ask people in the group to facilitate discussion or to lead a prayer circle, it gives them a  small leadership step that can build their confidence.

9. Rotate facilitators occasionally. You may be perfectly capable of hosting each time, but you will help others grow in their faith and gifts if you give them opportunities to host the group.

10. One final challenge. Before your first opportuinty to lead, look up each of the passages listed below. Read each one as a devotional exercise to help prepare your heart. Matthew 9:36-38, John 10:14-15, 1 Peter 5:2-4, Philippians 2:1-5, Hebrews 10:23-25, 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, 11-12

From The Hole In Our Gospel Six-Week Quest 
Based on the book THE HOLE IN OUR GOSPEL, by Richard Stearns, President, World Vision U.S.,
Published in 2009 by Tomas Nelson, Inc.

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  1. You’re invited to link up at my “Party in Paris” on Friday!

    happy blogging!


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