Guest Contributor Jen Pattengil lives in Lakeville, Minnesota with her husband and three girls. She is a credentialed minister and a graduate of Rockford Masters Commission. Jen spends her time volunteering in Women’s Ministries at River Valley Church and is passionate about seeing women reach their full potential in Christ, as well as encouraging women to use their God-given gifts.

Leading a small group can be intimidating for most of us. Here is a top ten list of things that are helpful to remember as you lead that will make the process easier and a little less intimidating as you step into this vital leadership role.

10. Always bring it back to the Word of God

Don’t expect to have all of the answers. When a controversial issue presents itself (and it most likely will), steer away from offering your own opinion and direct them to God’s word. If you aren’t confident of the answer, take some time to research and seek Godly counsel before responding. The best part about these experiences is that it will cause you to grow exponentially in your own walk with Christ.

9. Make sure every person has the opportunity to share

People attend small groups because they want the opportunity to grow, connect, and be HEARD. It is your responsibility as the group leader to give them that opportunity by directing the conversation. Avoid open-ended questions; rather ask questions to specific people directly.  This will allow all members of the group the opportunity to share.

8. Prayer

Make prayer a part of every meeting time. Even if your group is meeting to play volleyball, use this time to quickly connect and encourage them.

Use a journal to record others prayer requests. This is a great way to help you remember each individual’s needs and requests and it is also a great faith booster as you look back at prayers the Lord has answered.

7. Follow up

Contact your group members in between meetings and let them know you are praying for them. It is often times the contact in between meetings that will leave others feeling the most valued and encouraged.

6. Create a safe environment

Create an environment where others feel safe to be open and honest, keeping in mind that it will take time to establish these relationships. Don’t expect them to come ready to be vulnerable the very first week. From the very beginning, share with the group members the importance of keeping things confidential.

5. You set the tone

As a leader, it is important to step into your role each week with a spirit of expectation and readiness to serve the people that God has entrusted to you. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

4. Be authentic

Be vulnerable regarding your own personal struggles and difficulties, however be careful to never use your small group time as your personal dumping ground. People don’t expect you to be perfect, and they will be more vulnerable with you if they know that you can relate to them, but make sure that your group time is about the people who came rather than all about their leader. If you are going through a difficult season then connect with another leader outside of group time to ask them for prayer and guidance.

3. When you need help, ask for it

If you are dealing with a tough situation please know that there are others who have gone before you and have wisdom to share. Do not be afraid to seek wise counsel.

2. Consistently raise up other leaders

Start by sharing the load. Ask another member of the group to be responsible for emailing the groups’ prayer requests out each week. Another way to do this is to ask others to lead the group discussion on occasion or close the group in prayer. There is a large number of people in the church just waiting to be asked so don’t shy away from encouraging those around you to use their God-given gifts.

1. Above all else trust the Holy Spirit to lead you

Even if you forget the other nine items in this list, lean on this one! The Holy Spirit will give you wisdom and discernment like no leadership teaching ever can. Read God’s word regularly, pray for those you are leading and trust that the Lord will lead you as you carry out His will in your life. “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21