Six Phases of a Weekly Small Group

The purpose of small groups is to help kids and students know God and to be known in community. This is the primary way we connect weekly with students to study Scripture and share life together. Here are our six phases to your time leading a weekly small group: A,B, C, D, E, F. Each one has powerful potential to build a transformational community.


While we value the impact of these weekly small group times, we have found that students are much more receptive to your input and leading when you have invested in their lives outside the weekly meeting. That time shows investment and builds trust. Consider reading “Connecting With Students Outside of Small Groups” for ideas on how to connect outside of regular meeting times in a way that is appropriate for the students you work with.  

A // Arrive

  • Welcome students – Do not simply be connecting with other staff
  • Be proactive with joy and an appreciation that your small group members came

B // Be Present

  • Don’t be distracted by your phone or thinking about what is next; really be with them and participate with them
    • Sit next to them; whatever the students are called to do, model it (game, cheering, worship, etc.)

C // Check In

  • Hear the highs & lows from your small group members’ weeks
  • If there’s a new child or student in your group, make introductions of everyone
    • Ask everyone a random question so the visitor has a chance to hear from everyone and isn’t the only one sharing new information (examples below)
      • What is your favorite breakfast food?
      • If you could go anywhere on the planet for a week, where would you go and what would you do?

D // Discover

Ask questions to find out where they stand on the topic or issue at hand. Find out what their experience has been on this topic and how it works for them.

  • Give your group time to process
    • Don’t be afraid of a little silence
  • Give them anywhere from 5 to 15 seconds of silence before rephrasing the question, giving your own response, or moving on to something else
  • Repeat the question as needed
  • Keep your eyes up, and be intentional with your eye contact to let them know you are waiting for them to process and participate in discussion

E // Engage Truth

Look to Scripture by reading and even rereading the passage with your small group.

  • Give them opportunities to challenge the topic and ask questions
    • If a conversation is going well, don’t rush to the next question
  • Utilize the Discussion Questions Provided
    • Know that you don’t have to get through all the small group discussion questions and that you have the freedom to ask questions of your own


Here are some examples of broad discussion questions:

  • How does this passage relate to you and or your walk with God?
  • Is there anything that especially stood out to you from the passage we read or from what the speaker said? How can those things apply to your life?
  • Do you have a hard time believing this point in the passage is true? Why or why not?
  • What specifically did you learn about God?
  • Is there anything in this passage that is repeated? Why would that be important?
  • Will this passage influence you this week and beyond? Why?

Make sure to involve everyone in the discussion.

  • Get your group members to talk early
  • The longer they wait in the group time to talk, the less likely they will be to jump into the discussion
  • You will have group members who will dominate the conversation
    • Lead by redirecting these students:
      • “Thanks for your input Johnny; let’s allow someone else the opportunity to speak.”
    • This simple step affirms the person dominating and hands the conversation back to the rest of the group
  • You will have students who haven’t shared. Consider directing a question to a specific child
    • Ask them what they think of what “Tom” said

F // Follow Up

Every week there will be an opportunity to extend group beyond the scheduled time. As you hear individuals struggles and strengths, you will be able to bring more meaningful discussions each week. Whether it is celebrating great things or comforting through hard things, your follow up is essential. Here are a few ideas:

  • Immediately following Small Group, ask the student more questions and pray right there
  • Set a reminder on your phone after group to send them a text message or pray for them
  • The following week, during the game time before the meeting starts, ask them how things are going