One of the first small group scripture studies I ever led was in Ireland and was attended by seventy percent Non-Christians-not even Christian let alone Roman Catholic!
I was in deep over my head.
Despite the odds, there was great fruit that came from this study as I found out that one of the gents that came to my study and I had befriended over in Ireland recently went to his first mass and was considering becoming Catholic, all from an hour-long study on The Good Shepherd parable!
This is why small groups are so so important. Not only does it allow us to grow in fellowship with other people our age, but it also helps us foster authentic faith lives and grow closer in divine intimacy with Christ.
Leading a small group as I experienced can be a very daunting task, but there is so much good that can come from modeling leadership. If you do it right, not only does leading your small group gain you more experience, but it encourages others to lead as well.
If you’re reading this blog you saw the title and want to lead a small group better. So we will be talking about three tips to up your small group game: Preparation, Hospitality, and Modeling Leadership.
Prep like a Boss
One of the hardest parts about leading a small group is just preparing content for the study. It’s a good idea to spend more time praying and preparing the material for your group than you think you need.
Content is also crucial to a successful small group. You don’t want to bore the people in your group by talking about why Joshua and the Israelites marched around Jericho for 30 minutes, but you also don’t want to confuse everyone with going through every single objection Thomas Aquinas writes in the Summa.
Luckily for you, we have made the process of gathering content pretty easy. We have a few pre-written studies for you to download and use for free on our website right here If you need even more resources, there is a whole blog right here with all of the resources that you may need to prep for your group successfully.
If you have little to no experience, I would recommend following these pretty closely until you get more comfortable with leading. If you are more experienced, you can have some freedom in tweaking a study or even creating your own!
Be Hospitable, like a Boss
Hospitality is crucial to making the people in your study transform from awkward humans who feel forced to speak in a dirty room with no food to happy Catholics growing in fellowship and divine intimacy together.
Now you don’t have to cook up a 5-star gourmet dinner every time you have a study, but it is essential to have a consistent time and location for each study. If you are doing it at your home, its a great idea to have snacks or drinks for everyone ready when they walk in the door.
Also, HUGE tip, say hello and greet everyone that comes into the door. Ask how they are doing and have good genuine conversations with each one of your group members as they come in. This sets a hospitable comfortable tone right off the bat.
Listening is also a huge component of this. Receive what they are saying and allow them to speak everything that is on their minds. I can be a huge blabbermouth, so this is really hard for me sometimes, but putting in the effort is worth it.
This also goes for during your study. Ask questions and then just let the room discuss it out. Don’t feel like you have to moderate the room, and never cut some one-off while they are speaking. That’s just rude bro.
Model Leadership, like a BOSS
Believe it or not, there is an end goal to leading a small group, and that is the concept that we like to talk a lot about here in the ministry world: discipleship.
Leading a small group is not just asking questions on a piece of paper, or reading this Sunday’s Gospel and reflecting on how it makes you “feel.” It’s about leading as Christ did.
Growing in authentic friendship with the people in your study allows them to be more open to Christ’s plan for their lives. Just think about it, if you have trouble connecting with someone on a personal level, connecting on a spiritual one will be difficult.
From authentic friendship, you can then facilitate good prayer and hopefully an encounter with Christ, which then might inspire one of your group members to start leading a group of their own. This constant discipleship chain is what we in the biz like to call “spiritual multiplication” and it will absolutely set the world on fire.
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire” – St. Catherine of Sienna
One More Tip…
No matter how many mistakes you make don’t freak out. Experience just comes with leading a group. And the best way to gain experience is to just do it!
If by reading this you feel called to lead an Emmaus group, feel free to register to become a leader here or reach out to us if you have any questions!