Leading Great Group Discussions

Whether you’ve been leading small groups for years, or you’re just starting in your leadership journey, you’ll need to be skilled at facilitating conversations. Check out these tips on how to lead your group discussions like a pro.

Prepare

  • Pray for your group and your discussion
    • Pray that God will give you humility and clarity as you lead your upcoming discussion.
  • Watch/Listen to the sermon
    • Most of our Cell Groups discuss the sermon from Sunday. In order to best prepare to lead a discussion, make sure you watch the sermon either in person or online.
  • Take notes and encourage your group to take notes
    • Taking notes helps us follow along more closely and remember content longer. Bring your notes to your group discussion that week.
  • Preview the sermon questions
    • Discussion questions are posted on the sermon page every week during the school year.
    • Make sure to read through all the questions before leading the discussion. Be sure to make note of questions that you think will work best in your group.
  • Three ways to use the sermon questions
    • Try them (read the questions as-is)
    • Tweak them (edit or adjust the questions to better suite your group dynamic)
    • Trash them (write your own questions, study something else that week, be sensitive to what’s happening in your group that week)

Discussion Tips

  • Ask follow up questions
    • After someone answers a question, use follow up questions to draw out more thoughts from them or someone else.
    • Focus on open-ended questions, rather than asking for “Yes/No” responses.
    • Use statements like “Go on”, “Tell us more”, “What do you mean?”, “Anything else?”, “What does everybody else think?”.
  • Get comfortable with silence
    • Don’t be the first to answer your own questions. It usually takes time for people to process the question and think of an answer.
  • Give affirmation whenever you can
    • You may not always agree with someone’s answer, but the more you are able to affirm their thoughts, the more likely everyone will be to keep sharing.
    • Use phrases like “Great question”, “Thanks for sharing”, “I love that”, “Very helpful”.
  • Try to involve everyone
    • Draw people in that haven’t talked yet. Use phrases like “Anyone who hasn’t shared yet?”, “How about someone on this side of the room?”, “Guys, any thoughts from you?”.
    • Don’t let someone dominate. Talk to them beforehand and ask them to help you involve others. Sit next to them during the discussion. Call on others.
  • Begin and end on time
    • Know ahead of time when to begin and end discussion. Plan how long you want to spend Connecting, Applying, and Praying. It is better to leave people wanting more with a short discussion than to drag on too long.
  • Don’t focus on getting through all of the material
    • The goal of discussion is to help everyone apply their faith, not answer all of the questions. Be ready to pause the discussion to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
  • Get feedback
    • After your first time facilitating, ask your co-leaders for feedback. Always try to improve!

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