11 Tips for Small Group Leader Training

Small groups are the backbone of the Church.

In the first few hundred years of the Church, these kinds of groups were basically the only way the church gathered. People would meet on their own to fellowship, learn, and grow.

Small groups were crucial to the development and maturity of believers then and now. Strong small groups start with strong small group leaders.

Strong small groups start with strong small group leaders.

Here are 11 tips that have helped us build healthy small group leaders at Life.Church.

How to Train Small Group Leaders

    1. Have the right mindset. Recruiting small group leaders is about more than meeting a quota or getting a warm body in a seat. It’s about identifying people in your church who have a God-given ability to love and lead others, and developing them into the leader He’s called them to be.
    2. Tell leaders what you see in them. When you approach a potential small group leader, be specific about the characteristics and passions you see in them and why you think those attributes will make them a great leader. Believe in them, and they’ll begin to believe in themselves.
    3. Provide clear expectations for the role. From the beginning, be clear about the expectations you have for the role. It’s best to have these on paper and talk through them together. This includes behavior you expect, time commitments, and what a “win” would look like for them in this position.
    4. Honor their time. When you meet for training, be sure to start and end your conversation on time. If special training or classes are required, have those dates available and let your leaders know about them as soon as you can.
    5. Help them find the best fit. At Life.Church, we have four ways a leader can serve in small groups. They can start an ongoing small group, a short-term group, a group formed from existing friendships, or they can engage in a mentoring relationship. Walk through all the options available for your leaders, and help them choose what’s best for them and their unique situation.
    6. Start a relationship. Small groups are all about relationships! Spend time and get to know your leaders. Great questions to ask are:
      • When did you become a follower of Christ?
      •  Tell me about your family?
      • What made you want to become a leader?
      • What’s your biggest passion right now?
    7. Ask tough questions. Small group leaders are looked to for spiritual guidance and discipleship, so make sure your leader is ready to step into this important role. A great question to ask is: “Do you have anything in your life that would be a hindrance to you leading in this role?”
    8. If needed, redirect the conversation. Sometimes, becoming a small group leader isn’t the next step for the potential leader. Be ready to redirect the conversation and help the leader figure out his or her appropriate next step.
    9. Create a small group plan. Help new small group leaders put together a plan for their group. This plan will help them tackle logistics: where and when they’ll meet, what they plan to do to recruit members, and how they will continue to grow and develop as a leader. A plan also helps them create vision for the group: what relationships will look like in the group, how their group will impact the community, how all members will contribute and grow in their relationship with Christ, etc.
    10. Encourage relationships. Relationships happen when people feel needed, known, and loved. Train small group leaders to:
      • Practice uncommon hospitality
      • Be open and transparent
      • Ask questions to get to know people
      • Be there for people when they need friendship and support
    11. Pray for your leaders. Pray with and for your small group leaders. Pray over them as leaders and developers and for the people God brings into their group. Set a reminder each week and pray for them by name or text them to ask for specific requests.

Onboarding Conversations

Setting a solid foundation for leading a small group is important, and sometimes there’s so much to cover it’s hard to know where to start.

We’ve added four new training videos to the Open Network that will help you learn how to onboard small group leaders. Watch one of the trainings below, and visit our training page to watch or download the other three.



Small Group Curriculum

Looking for small group curriculum? We have lots of options available for free on the Open Network. Browse, download, and change lives!


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