I have heard from ministry leaders from all over the US that the small groups at their church are fading instead of growing. This is especially true in an era of Covid, an element outside of our control. But what about what we can do? How can we kickstart healthy small groups from an existing ministry that is languishing?


How can we kickstart healthy small groups from an existing ministry that is languishing? Share on X

Below are some ideas. Try one at a time and see what works in your context. 

Renew an outward focus:

Serve others, reach out, invite. Nothing energizes people like mission instead of the same-old, same-old. Embrace a purpose. 

Invest in your leaders:

Provide quality training and coaching. Let your leaders know they are valued by demonstrating interest and coaching them in their personal calling.

Go deeper.

If your groups are stalled out at a surface level, inject them with some vulnerability and honesty. This starts with modeling by the leaders. You’ll be amazed at how well people respond to imperfection.  

Talk about groups from up front.

If your ministry places more emphasis on corporate worship services, use that platform to talk about small groups. Advertise sign-ups. Announce the percent of the congregation that is in a group, along with future goals. Offer spotlight testimonials from people involved in the groups. 

Don’t force it.

If some existing groups are happy with the way things are and don’t want to get on board with your new initiatives, don’t make them. Focus your energy on starting new groups and energizing groups that desire renewal. 


What’s working and what’s not working? If a group has something it does particularly well, how can it leverage that strength to grow in other areas? 

Cast a vision.

Talk with your group and dream together. What’s the difference between where you are now and where you’d like to be? What would it look like to move toward that vision? 

Remember your purpose.

What is the purpose of small groups anyway? Remind yourselves of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Maybe revisit Acts 2:41-47 together. 


Finding the Flow– Written to help give bring life and order into small groups, this book equips small group leaders with skills that will draw people toward Christ in authentic ways. There is also a downloadable Finding the Flow Small Group Training Kit with everything you need to facilitate discussion and learning with your small group team.

Guide for Discipling– This is the small group study for people who are ready to experience transformation. Start with Experiencing God and learn Spiritual Responsiveness. From there it’s a choose-your-own-adventure that covers 40 topics in 8 areas of discipleship. This small group study has been customized to honor the traditions of several denominations including Episcopal, Lutheran, and The Vineyard.

Photo by Kate Kalvach on Unsplash