Groups are absolutely essential to the health and mission of a church. They are likely the starting point for community, discipleship, and service in your church. In fact, recent research shows that people involved in groups are healthier spiritually than those who aren’t. People in groups read the Bible more, pray more, give more, and serve more. Simply stated: groups matter.

What happens when groups gather also matters. I found Rick Howerton‘s list 10 Practices of Great Small Group Facilitators helpful. Here are his very practical suggestions.

  1. Do ice-breakers that everyone participates in and that build individual trust and team unity.
  2. Affirm each person when they speak, especially early in the group’s life.
  3. Draw everyone into the conversation. When there is a person who seems slow to jump into the discussion, graciously ask their opinion or request their input.
  4. Be relaxed yourself. A relaxed facilitator creates a relaxed environment.
  5. When asking the group to speak of a sensitive life issue or situation, be the first to tell your story.
  6. Involve your apprentice when possible.
  7. Talk less than 30% of the time.
  8. Converse with those in your group between group gatherings.
  9. When you don’t know the answer to a question asked of you, say you don’t know but that you’ll try to find out and that you’ll get back to the group with the answer to the question.
  10. React to delicate situations/moments with grace and sensitivity.

This list origionally appeared on

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