There’s no rule that says all small groups should look like a Bible study. Groups should feel free to dedicate a season to anything from searching for the best roller coaster in Ohio to prefecting the American cookout. Small groups should feel like communities, not classes. While Jesus spent time teaching, he also spent a lot of time hanging out with friends over a good meal.
Have something in common
While small groups can include all types of people, it’s a good idea to consider joining groups in which there are at least some common interests.
Consider meeting at least twice a month, if not every week. It’s important to commit to some type of rhythm and frequency that will facilitate a growing relationship. The bottom line is that if your group is meeting only once a month, you’re not having community.
Get a sitter
Consider getting babysitters to watch the kids during small group meetings. While everyone loves everyone’s kids, it’s difficult to get really deep into adult conversation while Bobby’s wetting his pants and Sally is rubbing applesauce on the wall.
Maybe you’ve never prayed out loud or with others before. Maybe you don’t pray at all. That’s OK. Don’t freak out. Just talk to God as you would a friend. Tell Him how you really feel, not what you think he wants to hear. Begin quietly, close your eyes and pick someone to start. Once he/she has finished, others in the group can continue to pray. Some awkward silence is to be expected. While everyone is encouraged to pray out loud, it’s OK if you don’t. Prayer is not about effort or performance, and there’s no “correct” way to do it. The person that started can discern when it seems right, and simply end the prayer.
Resolve conflict in a healthy way
Move the furniture up against the walls, clearing a large space in the center of your living room. Let the opposing parties fight it out, and whoever is left standing gets to be right. (Kidding.)
Seriously, there’s a healthy principle that says, “What happens in the group needs to be resolved in the group.” The group needs to be a place that allows healthy disagreement, but not at the expense of respect for one another. this is a great opportunity to look at what the Bible has to say about disagreements. Have the group turn their Bible to Ephesians 4:15 to read about speaking the truth in love, and to Ephesians 4:32 to read about forgiving each other.
If someone is having ongoing trouble with someone else from the group, the first step should be to talk one-on-one with the person away from the rest of the group. The two should strive to be active listeners, loving and honest. Focus the discussion on the event that happened or the behavior, not the person.
If that doesn’t work, sit down with the person and someone else from the group. If no meaningful changes occur after taking these steps, it would be appropriate to ask the person to step out of the group. This plan follows the guidance given in the Bible in Matthew 18:15-17.