Healthy Practices for Small Group Ministry

Part of SGM Training

Circle of small flat stones around a larger flat stone

Vibrant and vital Small Group Ministry depends on developing and maintaining healthy practices learned from the experiences of dozens of congregations:

Clear Mission

  • Faith development is a primary purpose of Small Group Ministry
  • Developing deep listening and communication skills is another important purpose
  • Deepening relationships and fostering community is an additional purpose

Clear Boundaries

  • Relationship should be mutual, balancing giving and receiving
  • Use a circle format where everyone has a chance to share and be understood
  • Avoid offering unsolicited advice
  • Hold confidentiality: Share the learning, not the stories of others
  • Avoid over-sharing: These are not therapy groups

Helpful Small Group Dynamics

  • Groups should be no fewer than 6 and no more than 10 participants
  • Meet at least monthly, in a place where others can't listen in (a members home or a room at the church building)
  • Group members should commit to attend regularly
  • Groups should develop and keep a covenant

Helpful SGM Program Dynamics

  • Groups should have a clear accountability to the church's mission and leadership.
  • Have each group keep an empty chair in the circle to signal the openness to new members.
  • Provide opportunities for new groups for new friends and members to join new or existing, open groups.
  • Provide opportunities for existing groups to dissolve gracefully (e.g. at the end of the church year).

Trained and Supported Leaders

  • SGM facilitators should be members of the congregation.
  • Pair facilitators for training, support and redundancy
  • SGM should have some pastoral care training and be communication with the lay pastoral care team and/or the minister when a need arises.
  • Meet regularly for care and guidance with SGM Program leadership