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Top Tips for New Connect Leaders

As the leader of your group, you have courageously stepped out in faith to help others to grow in their faith. Thank you for the impact you will make. As you prepare to facilitate your group, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind: You are not alone. God promises, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). 

Whether you are facilitating for the duration of this series, or longer you will be richly blessed.

  1. Don’t try to do it alone. Pray right now for God to help you build a healthy team. If you can enlist a co-host to help you shepherd the group, you will find your experience much richer. This is your chance to involve as many people as you can in building a healthy group. All you have to do is ask. You may be surprised at the response!
  2. Be friendly and be yourself. God wants to use your unique gifts and temperament. Be sure to greet people with a big smile – this can set the mood for the whole gathering. Remember, they are taking as big a step in showing up at your group as you are in leading a group. Don’t try to do things exactly like other leaders; do them in a way that fits you. Admit when you don’t have an answer and apologise when you make a mistake. People appreciate authenticity.
  3. Prepare for your meeting. Preview the session ahead of time and write down your responses to each question.
  4. Pray for your group members by name. Before your group arrives, take a few moments to pray for each member. You may want to review the Small Group Prayer List at least once a week. Ask God to use your time together to touch the heart of each person in your group. Expect God to lead you to whomever he wants you to encourage or challenge in a special way. If you listen, God will surely lead.
  5. When you ask a question, be patient. Someone will eventually respond. Often people need a moment or two to think about the question. If silence doesn’t bother you, it won’t bother anyone else. After someone responds, affirm the response with a simple “thank you” or “great answer”. Then ask, “How about somebody else?” or “Would someone who hasn’t shared like to add anything?” Be sensitive to new people or reluctant members who aren’t ready to say, pray, or do anything. If you give them a safe setting, they will open up over time. If someone in your group is very quiet and sits silently through every session, consider talking to them privately and encouraging them to participate. Let them know that they are important to you and that the group would value their input. Remember, still waters often run deep.
  6. Provide transitions between questions. Ask if anyone would like to read the Bible verse for example. Don’t call on anyone, but ask for a volunteer, and then be patient until someone begins. Remember to thank the person who reads aloud.
  7. Break into smaller circles of three or four occasionally. With an opportunity to talk in a small circle, people will connect more with the study, apply more quickly what they’re learning, and ultimately get more out of this experience. A small circle also encourages a quiet person to participate and tends to minimise the effects of a more vocal or dominant member.
  8. Small circles are also helpful during prayer time. People who are unaccustomed to praying aloud will feel more comfortable trying it with just two or three others. Also, prayer requests won’t take as much time, so circles will have more time to actually pray. When you gather back with the whole group, you can have one person from each circle briefly update everyone on the prayer requests from their subgroups. The other great aspect of subgrouping is that it fosters leadership development. As you ask people in the group to facilitate discussion or to lead a prayer circle, it gives them a small leadership step that can build their confidence.
  9. Rotate facilitators occasionally. You may be perfectly capable of leading each time, but you will help others grow in their faith and gifts if you give them opportunities to host the group.
  10. One final challenge: before your first opportunity to lead, look up each of the six scriptures listed below. Read each one as a devotional exercise to help prepare you with a shepherd’s heart. With your heart prepared in this way you will be more than ready for your first meeting.


When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

JOHN 10:14-15 (NIV)

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.

1 PETER 5:2-4 (NIV)

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you,but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.


If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

HEBREWS 10:23-25 (NIV)

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

1 THESSALONIANS 2:7-8, 11-12 (ESV)

But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us…For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

  1. Write down Prayer Requests 

This is a place where you can write each other’s requests for prayer. You can also make a note when God answers prayer. Pray for each other’s requests. If you’re new to group prayer, it’s okay to pray silently or to pray by using just one sentence.

  1. Create a Small Group Calendar 


Healthy groups share responsibilities. Shared ownership ensures that responsibility for the group doesn’t fall to one person. Use the calendar to keep track of who’s bringing eats (if you’re meeting in person), communicating changes in venue etc. Feel free to use this calendar at your first meeting. Planning ahead will create a sense of shared ownership.