5 Small Group Ministry Ideas

Discover 5 creative small group ministry ideas that can help foster meaningful relationships and spiritual growth in your church community.

Susanna Fleming

Digital giving apps and tools

Are you overseeing a small group at your church? 

Having worked in the church management space for several years, I am deeply convinced of the importance of small groups in helping foster meaningful relationships and spiritual growth. I also understand that leading a small group can be a lot of work! 

If you’re feeling stuck on how to keep your small group fresh and engaging, I’m here to help. 

First, let’s talk about why small groups are so vital for the life and health of a church community.

Sharing Life Together

Church is about so much more than a Sunday gathering! Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love gathering at my local church on Sundays to worship, learn from scripture, and chat it up in the church lobby (over a cup of freshly brewed coffee, of course!) I also truly believe that the weekly rhythm of coming together for a church gathering is an important component of the Christian walk.

Even so, I recognize that most ministry doesn’t happen on Sundays. Of the 168 hours that week contains, only 2-3 of those hours are spent in a weekly worship service.

If we really want to BE the Church outside of the church walls, we have to start sharing life together outside of the Sunday experience. This is where small groups come into play. While small groups can certainly follow a Bible study format, they can also be centered around common interests or activities. The key is building authentic relationships and pursuing Jesus – together!

Looking for small group inspiration? Here are 5 ideas to get those creative juices flowing!

5 Small Group Ministry Ideas

1. Start with Ice Breakers

It isn’t always easy to open up about your life to a room full of people, especially for those who are new to the group or are more introverted. This is where ice breakers can be especially helpful in creating a more welcoming and relaxed environment for everyone. Ice breakers break down barriers in a fun and non-threatening way, and they encourage more meaningful conversations and connections.

The ice breaker can be simple, such as having everyone introduce their name and share their favorite type of ice cream. You can also choose a game like “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Posse.” In this game, players spread out and find a partner to play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” with. The pair plays for the best two out of three rounds, and then the losing player then stands behind the winning player and enthusiastically cheers that player on as they go on to their next game. 

Whether you are just starting out or have been meeting for a while, ice breakers are a great choice to help people in your small group feel more connected and comfortable. 

2. Gather Around the Table

This idea may be the most simple and straightforward small group ministry idea, but that doesn’t lessen its impact. In fact, many of Jesus’ most memorable interactions and teachings happened around the table! Jesus broke bread with his followers, dined with sinners and tax collectors, and fed the crowds that came to hear his teachings. Sharing a meal – both then and now – is a powerful way to connect with people and demonstrate generosity and hospitality.

If you love to host and cook, you are welcome to provide a meal for your small group guests each week. But you certainly don’t have to cook to make a meal happen! 

Many small group leaders choose to organize a potluck-style meal and encourage members of the group to bring food to share. If your church utilizes a church management software system, this can help you communicate with your group about who should bring what food item each week. Whether you choose to cook a gourmet meal, host a potluck, or order pizza, the important thing is to create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere that fosters conversation and belonging. 

3. Get Outdoors

Do you have a passion for the outdoors? Do you love to hike, kayak, or play volleyball? These hobbies are perfect opportunities to bring people together and build authentic relationships. In my hometown of San Diego, for example, surfing small groups are incredibly popular. Many of these groups will meet on a weekly basis to paddle out for a sunset surf session. After, they will warm up around a beach campfire and discuss a Bible passage or devotional.

The beauty of combining your interests with your small group is that it allows you to connect with people on a personal level so that the relationship can be maintained outside of a structured small group rhythm. If you don’t have a specific hobby in mind, consider trying something new with your group! Take a hiking trip, bring out a frisbee, or host a park picnic. These shared experiences are fun ways to bond with your group while providing opportunities for meaningful conversations about Jesus. 

4. Lectio Divina 

If you are looking for ways to help cultivate spiritual growth in your small group, incorporating a Lectio Divina practice is a great place to start. Lectio Divina, or "Divine Listening," is an ancient Christian discipline which teaches us to engage with scripture in a prayerful manner. It helps us to listen attentively to what God is speaking to us through a particular scripture passage. Here are the basic steps for Lectio Divina:

  1. Choose a scripture passage. It can be a longer passage or just a few verses. 
  2. Read the passage out loud to your group. Read slowly and attentively, allowing the words of the passage to sink in. You may want to read it multiple times.
  3. Have people silently meditate on the passage. Everyone can ask themselves questions such as “How does this apply to my life?” or “What words or phrases stood out to me?” Journals may be helpful in this step, but they are not necessary.
  4. Open up a group discussion in which people can share their thoughts about the passage and reflect on how they can apply its teachings to their daily lives.
  5. Take a moment to rest in silence and be present with God as a group, and then close in prayer.

Lectio Divina is a great way to incorporate intentional scripture reading into your small group while participating in a church discipline that has been used by faithful followers of Jesus for centuries!

5. Serve Together

If we want to be like Jesus, we have to do what Jesus did! A huge part of what Jesus did was serve and love others. Serving together can be an incredible way to help your small group grow in their faith while making a positive impact in your community or at your church. Consider reaching out to local organizations to see how your small group can serve and make a difference. This may include volunteering at a local soup kitchen, working with a non-profit, or raking leaves for a single parent!

Churches are always in need of volunteers, as well, and your group can sign up to serve as greeters, in the children’s ministry, or at special outreach events! If you want to serve as a group, simply let your church administrator know that you want to be assigned to work together. Serving others together is an opportunity for your small group to put faith into action and bond while doing it!

Organize Your Small Group with a Church Management Software

Small groups are a vital part of the life and health of a church community, and I hope these five small group ministry ideas provided inspiration for your group! Now, here’s a bonus tip: If you are looking for ways to better communicate with your group members and keep things organized, an effective church management software (ChMS) will be a total game changer! 

Breeze’s ChMS helps churches with features such as messaging, event management, and group organization so that leaders can focus on their primary mission: to serve the people in their congregations and communities. To learn more about Breeze’s church management solutions, click here.

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