When we talk about a small group leader, the person who comes to mind is usually the one facilitating discussion or teaching content. That person may be the “official” leader, but if you host a small group in your home, then you aren’t off the hook. Even while He was teaching, Jesus’ example of leadership in Scripture centered around serving, whether He was washing His disciples’ feet, feeding a crowd, or meeting people’s physical needs. Hosting a small group gives you a great opportunity to put Jesus’ example into practice. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you do.
1. Be prepared.
The primary responsibility of a small group host is to create a welcoming and comfortable environment. The best thing you can do to help make this happen is to be prepared, especially if you host a group in your home. Work in advance to clean, prep the meal or snacks, talk through housekeeping details with your group leader, and so on. You should be done with all the prep work by the time the first person walks in your front door. Then you can shift your focus to engaging your group members and making them feel welcome. Remember that, even in those chores you have to do to get ready, you are loving and serving the people in your group.
2. Anticipate people’s needs.
Do you have enough Bibles and pens for everyone in your group? A good variety of tea/coffee/fixings? Blankets in case anyone is cold natured? Thinking through little details like these help you anticipate the needs of the people in your group, which is a very personal and practical way to serve them. This goes beyond just making people feel comfortable, though. Also think through ways to arrange the chairs, the best rooms to meet in, and whether additional meeting spaces are needed in case your group wants to split into smaller groups. Planning for these and other logistics will help foster a comfortable environment for vulnerability and prayer.
3. Don’t get lost in the details.
Hosting a small group can be a logistical juggling act, which is why it’s so important to remember that at the end of the day, you are a group member, too. Don’t get so lost in the details that you don’t listen well to others, don’t participate in discussion, or can’t spend time in prayer without worrying about your home. Martha—the model hostess in the New Testament—learned the hard way that no amount of serving matters more than spending time with Jesus. Overall, by creating an open environment for the other people in your group, you are contributing to the leadership and shepherding of that group. Don’t forget that you are serving and loving real people with real needs.
Laura Magness is a content specialist for Lifeway’s Discipleship in Context and smallgroup.com. A graduate of Samford University and Dallas Theological Seminary, she now lives in Nashville, TN, with her husband and their 1-year-old son.