3 Ways to Grow Your Church's Small Groups Ministry

Posted by Aaron Buer on June 16, 2022

If there was ever a time where your church’s small group ministry needs to be growing, this is it!  Why? 

Because small groups provide the relational stickiness that helps people feel like your church is a family.  Coming out of COVID, people are more relationally disconnected than ever before. 

If you can provide a solid relationally connected discipleship experience through small groups, you will hit people with exactly what they need right when they need it. 

I’m guessing your small group ministry struggled through COVID.  At first, it was stronger than ever as people engaged virtually, but as people grew weary of screens, engagement fell off. 

How do you rebuild your small groups ministry, accelerate a growing small groups ministry, or perhaps even launch a small groups ministry for the first time in your church?  

I have a few thoughts that might help.  


Invest in Leadership

The backbone of a thriving small groups ministry is small group leaders.  The most strategic use of your time and resources is investing in your small group leaders

Whether you have 3 or 30, invest in them one-on-one.  Pour relational energy into them so that they know you are behind them and for them.  My suggestion is to make sure someone from your staff has meetings with each of your small group leaders on a regular basis. 

Secondly, connect your small leaders with other small group leaders. They’ll feel like they’re part of a team and can share best practices and troubleshoot together. 

In our church, we organize small group leader “huddles” on a regular basis so they can invest in each other.  

Lastly, equip your small group leaders.  Give them the tools needed to succeed in their role.  Help them learn how to lead great discussions. 

Train them in navigating difficult conversations.  Set them up to win.  This doesn’t have to be a big event or a weekend away.  It can be as simple as a short weekly training video or reading through a great small groups book together.  

All I’m saying is this:  If you want to grow your small groups ministry, start by investing in your leaders.  

Easy On-Ramps 

If you believe that small groups are important for the spiritual growth of your people and the discipleship strategy of your church, well, then you need to get people into groups!  What’s your plan for that?  

How does a person connected to your church get into a small group?  Is the process easy?  Simple?  Obvious?  People need easy on-ramps to join a small group.

A strategy that has helped us is an event called Group Launch.  Two times a year, in the fall and in the winter, we put on an event where anyone who is interested in joining a group can come and get placed into a small group.  These events are critical to our strategy so we focus a ton of energy around these events.

But what about people who miss the event or are unlikely to join a group?  One of our answers to these questions is short-term groups. 

Our normal groups run for a semester or even a year.  However, we periodically launch 6 week groups around a specific topic or need.  These groups are helpful for people who are interested in trying a small group but not so sure about committing long-term. 

Also, in these groups we are able to pursue targeted discipleship around specific topics.  

Both of these strategies are an attempt to provide easy on-ramps. 



It’s difficult to build a thriving small groups ministry if small groups are one of the many good things you do.  In other words, if people have to choose between a small group or five other ministry opportunities, well, you’re not going to get everyone into a small group.  

If you believe small groups are the best way to create a meaningful discipleship-oriented community then emphasize them.  This might mean de-emphasizing other programs or events.  People need to know that this is “the thing.”  

One of the ways I personally do this is through preaching.  I attempt to talk about my personal small group experiences in sermons as a way of communicating that small groups are hugely important to what we do as a church and critical to our spiritual growth.

Basically, if your senior leaders talk about them then they will be an important part of your church.  If your senior leaders don’t, well…they probably won’t be a central part of your church.  

Another way we emphasize small groups is by rallying our entire church around specific small group studies.  A few years ago we led our entire church through Financial Peace University and we did it through small groups.  

Sometimes we do the same thing with specific sermon series.  “If you want to get everything out of this sermon series, then join our small group discussing the scripture and the sermons.”  

One way or another, if you want to grow your small group ministry, you have to emphasize it. 


Wrap Up

I hope your small group ministry is thriving. People need community right now.  And, I hope these ideas help you grow small groups in your church.  

Topics: Advice

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