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5 Suggestions When the Pastor Leads a Small Group

Since beginning Grace Community Church I have personally led a small group study, many times meeting in our home. Cheryl and I have loved each of our groups. Some of our best friends in life have come from these groups. I hear from pastors who don’t want to lead a group or feel that they shouldn’t, but from my experience, I think it is best when a pastor does.

  • It models groups for the church
  • It keeps a pastor close to people
  • It helps a pastor know the real thoughts of people with the church

Of course, the pastor, as a small group leader, leads the group in Bible study, but there is so much more than helps a group be successful.

Here are 5 suggestions for pastors leading a small group:

Fellowship – We don’t just do group with our group. We do life with our group. Recently we went to a ballgame together, because one of the members of our group coaches the local university baseball team. We periodically suspend group just to fellowship together. The closer our group grows to each other, the more relevant our Bible studies seem to be and the better we are at sharing our hearts with each other.

Serve – With our most recent group, we started serving together once a month. We help feed families at a local ministry. It’s been a great commitment for our group and we’ve grown closer together and learned to better appreciate all God has given us as individuals and as a group.

Access – With a large church, I can’t always be available to everyone in the church, but those in my small group always have access to my time. They have my cell phone and permission to contact me at anytime. We’ve walked through multiple tragedies and struggles with people in our groups. They begin to see me as a fellow group member during those times, far more than they see me as their pastor.

Be authentic – I have flaws too. Hopefully my preaching reveals that also, but my group especially knows it to be true. Cheryl and I don’t hide the fact that we have personal struggles. The longer our group is together the more real they find us to be. In fact, they realize we aren’t that different in our struggles from the struggles life brings them.

Let others lead – I try not to have all the answers. The expectation at first may be that I do, but I don’t. This is not the time for me to show my Biblical knowledge. (Some in my groups have had as much or more than me.) This is the time to learn the Bible together, without the pressure on any of us to be smarter than the others. I like to hand off teaching responsibilities when possible. It raises new leaders, spreads the responsibility around the group, and emphasizes the fact that everyone is part of the discipleship process.

Pastors, jump in the middle of this ministry. It will help you and your church!

What do you think? Should pastors lead a small group Bible study or not?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Steve says:

    Our church recently kicked off a small groups focus. I am the small groups director and had this very conversation with our pastor. However, I told him he should not be leading a group, he absolutely should be in a group, but leading a group brings some issues about that particular group being for the "special" people. I think a pastor can lead by example, and get all the benefits discussed in this post just by being a member of a group. It also gives him an opportunity to just be open to what God and others are saying, without having to be responsible for developing the teaching. With all of that being said, I truly believe small groups are essential in every Christian's life and walk. So if the pastor has to lead a group to get it going then so be it, as long as he is in a group that is what is important.

    • ronedmondson says:

      That's a good word Steve. Thanks for sharing it. I think it might depend a lot on the church dynamics. In our church it hasn't been a problem for me to lead one. We have over 100 groups and thankfully I'm just seen as another leader. In some churches it might present more of a problem. But, I agree, he should definitely be in a group.Thanks!

  • I feel that pastors shlould be leading a small group Bible study. It tells the entire chuch that he is accessible, grounded, down to earth, humble and genuine in his approach.

  • Andrew Toy says:

    I'm not against pastors leading small groups. However, they should be open to the advice and wisdom from others. Yes, I know they are the shepherds of the church, but "a small child will lead them." We can all learn something from anybody, even if all that pastor learns is the issues going on in other people's lives, that way he will know how to best plan his future sermons.

  • Kari Scare

    Yes, Pastor's should lead small group Bible study. I go to a small church, and our Pastor basically uses Wednesday evening service to do this, but it's still in the sanctuary and still sort of feels like church instead of small group. My pastor has led other small groups in the past, and they are usually very well attended. People do go just to be in the pastor's group. I would love to see my pastor lead a small group more regularly and to do it in such a way that people attend because of the topic and not just because he's leading it. I would also love a small group that taught others how to teach. Maybe I'll suggest that to him.

  • We have just started "life" groups. I trained our life group leaders and lead a group myself. I have always led a group and I believe the pastor should as well. Great comments Ron. I might add that there is an issue of "everyone" wanting to be in the "pastor's" group. How have you dealt with that?

    • ronedmondson says:

      Honestly, I'm careful with that. I do select my own groups and have gone back and forth between people I want to invest in (usually younger couples) and people who are in my same season of life so I can simply build friends. We've loved both experiences.