How do I lead a missional small group? 1. Welcome

The Small Groups Big Mission workbook has landed and we’re seeing students across the UK receive training in leading missional small groups! The workbook asks the question, ‘what does it look like to host unmissable meetings? To lead a small group that people can’t wait to attend?’ 

The book and the training consists of 4 main chapters, including creating small groups of real community, real faith, real creativity and real growth, and also provides a practical outline of how to host an unmissable small group! Based around the 4 Ws (welcome, worship, word and witness), the workbook provides you with an opportunity to think creatively around how to lead small group meetings. 

Over the next 4 weeks, we will explore creative ideas around how to carry out each of the 4 Ws, giving tips and insight into how to lead and plan unmissable meetings! 

First up… welcome!

Creating a space where people feel welcomed and accepted communicates that they are valued and that you’re glad they’re there. There are plenty of ways to welcome people to small group that extend further than you saying ‘take a seat’. Here are some of the ways to make sure your guests feel valued!

1. ‘Would you like a drink?’

This seems very self-explanatory, but if people are nervous or unsure, having something to hold will help them to feel more comfortable. It communicates to them that their needs are valued, even if there ‘need’ is a simple cup of tea. 

2. ‘Do you want to sit here?’ 

It’s really easy to stick to your best friends in small groups, even when not meaning to. Make sure that everyone is integrated into the conversation by encouraging ‘best buddies’ to sit separately. For example, in my small group, I love sitting next to my boyfriend at the dinner table, but choosing to sit apart every now and again communicates that small group is not an exclusive club that new people can’t be a part of. It instead says, ‘you are welcome here. You have a place at the table.’ 

3. ‘What’s your story?’

Nothing is worse than a one-sided conversation or one-word answers. Ask good questions. Use a DMC deck to promote conversation early on! Starting with a fun game will help everyone to feel at ease in talking later on. For more ideas around how to use the DMC deck, click here.

4. ‘Can you bring something?’

Often when we host, we think we need to provide everything. But when people are given a responsibility to bring something, it helps them feel more included and trusted, which makes a huge difference in feeling welcome! Perhaps one person could bring drinks, another brings dessert, another brings a salad? It doesn’t have to be much, but something helps them to feel valued knowing they made a contribution. 

5. ‘Can we pause?’

For more introverted people, going into a group of people and engaging in conversation all evening will be exhausting. By providing a space for them to breath, pause and get back into the conversation, your time together will be more fruitful and worthwhile. 

Perhaps you could provide a time in the evening of quiet reflection or prayer? 

Perhaps encouraging people to break into pairs at some point to discuss or pray? 

Perhaps watching a video or listening to a worship song for 5 minutes? 

Small groups are a place to branch out of the comfort zone and be full of fire. Having an awareness of peoples’ needs in the room will help you to understand how they are best motivated and rested. 

6. ‘Does that make sense?’

Who’s in the room? Would they understand everything you say? Often in Christian circles, we can chat in ‘Christianese’. In my first ever small group there was an assumed level of understanding around faith which made me feel excluded at times. People would refer to parts of the Bible and I’d have no knowledge of whether it was Old or New testament, let alone any theology around it. 

Explaining and making things clear does require extra time and effort, but the people in my first year of following Jesus were key players in helping me to grow a passion to read the Bible. 

7. ‘Do you want to get coffee?’

What are peoples’ needs outside of the evening of small group? For me, it was learning more about the Bible. My small group leader in my first year of uni recognised that I wasn’t keeping up with Bible reading, so would meet with me to chat through questions I had. From there, I began to feel welcomed into contributing to discussion, asking questions in front of other members of the group and adding my perspective.

These are just 5 ways of helping people to feel welcomed into small groups. What are your ideas? Let us know by reaching out on Instagram @hello_fusionmovement. We can’t wait to hear how you creatively welcome people in your small groups! 

Victoria Seithel

Communications Developer

Viki loves raising up new leaders and is committed to sharing the hope-filled story of student mission with the churches she serves.

Partner with Victoria