We are so excited to have you as a group leader! Groups provide a great space for people to connect, develop meaningful friendships, and grow in their walk with Jesus.
On this page you’ll find resources that will help you as you get started and as your group grows. If you have any questions, the best place to start is to connect with your section leader. They are here to support you and help you grow even more in the gifts God has given you.
We can’t wait to hear about all the awesome things God does in and through your group!
Check out these helpful tips as you plan your group.
As a group leader, you’ll have an opportunity to foster purposeful conversations, call out your group members’ gifts, and see lives changed. After looking over the checklist below, take some time to explore our list of ideas for your first group meeting, group dos and don’ts, and our ingredients for a successful small group.
Connect with Your Section Leader
Every group leader has an oversight called a section leader. They provide you with covering, encouragement, and coaching when needed. Please respond to your section leader when they reach out to contact you.
Pick a Meeting Place
Determine an appropriate location for your group. Keep in mind privacy, noise level, and cleanliness. Don’t assume this has to be in your home! Local restaurants and coffee shops are often excellent neutral locations.
Set the Meeting Schedule
Determine when your group will meet and establish the length of your meetings. Be sure to update your list of upcoming group meetings in Planning Center (PCO) so your group members will be aware of upcoming or canceled meetings.
Determine Your Group Focus
Check out the materials available in the Gateway Bookstore. If you do a book study, we recommend using books from well-known authors and ministries. You could also do a topical Bible study, read through a chapter of the Bible together, review the weekly sermon notes, or have discussions on a topic.
Please respond to people interested in your group within 72 hours. This communicates value and excellence as you are a representative of Gateway Church.
Make it Easy for People
Think about who you are hoping to reach through your group and identify ways you can show hospitality. Also think about possible barriers for that particular group of people. For example, if you think your group might benefit from children’s ministry being available, check with your campus Groups pastor or Kids pastor about options for childcare reimbursement or mid-week children’s ministry.
Plan for Fun!
Don’t forget to plan for fun in your group to help enhance relationships. You could plan an activity at a new location, host a holiday party, celebrate each other’s birthdays, or host a game night!
Use Planning Center to report group attendance each time you meet.
Share Care Requests
If you or any of your group members are hurting, struggling to make ends meet, or experiencing major life events like a birth, an adoption, hospitalization, a life-altering illness, death, or bereavement, we’d like to be there for you. Use this form to contact us with a care request.
Have you thought about what you’ll do for your first group meeting? This is a great place to start!
First Group Meeting Ideas
Use your first group gathering as a social time to allow members to get to know each other. Here are some ideas.
- Set a time to pray over your first meeting. You could even plan to do this with your section leader!
- Put out sticker name tags to help people learn each other’s names.
- As people arrive, let them know how glad you are to see them and introduce them to others in the group.
- Put an encouraging note or Bible verse on each chair.
- Provide snacks or order pizza.
- Invite members to bring a favorite snack to share.
- Put conversation-starting questions out on tables.
- Play a game that allows everyone to share a little about themselves.
- Make the first night a game night and invite members to bring their favorite games.
- Put together a list of songs to play in the background at the meeting.
- Give each person a postcard and ask them to write down one thing they’re hoping for with the group.
- No matter how many people show up to the first meeting, have fun!
Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind to help everyone in your group have a great time.
Group Dos and Don'ts
As you lead your group, ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. If you are debating on doing something with your group, you can always reach out to your section leader for a second opinion. Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Do plan and communicate with your group in advance.
- Do look for ways to make it easy for people to engage.
- Do submit attendance each time your group meets.
- Do update Planning Center with the latest details on your group.
- Do use your group time to facilitate discussion.
- Do encourage group members to pray for each other.
- Don’t use group time for lecture-style teaching.
- Don’t cancel a meeting without letting everyone know.
- Don't worry if you don't have all the answers. It's okay to say, "I don't know, but let me find out."
Find out the key ingredients to help your group thrive.
Ingredients for a Successful Small GroupPray
- Pray for those you invited. Pray for their health, marriage, children—everything!
- Pray for upcoming group meetings.
- Pray during group meetings.
- Pray for group members whether they are present or not.
- Appoint greeters for your group.
- Introduce new group members to everyone.
- Honor people’s schedule and time.
- Before your group starts, think through how you would like to use the meeting time.
- You can choose to have a time of connection after your scheduled group time for those who want to stay a bit longer.
- Keep a watchful eye for people who wander to the corners of the room and stand alone.
- Make sure you have funny or interesting icebreakers. It’s not easy to recover from a bad start.
- Be prepared and expectant. God always shows up to a prepared and expectant atmosphere.
- Believe for God to move during your group meetings.
- Be sensitive to the fact that first-time visitors often come to a meeting with a ministry need.
- Don’t let your schedule inhibit you from the most important part of the meeting: ministering to the people!
- Minister in an orderly way.
- Train the members of your group to minister to others.
- Cast vision for the meeting.
- Cast vision for group growth.
- Invite group members to embrace the group vision.
Learn how to build a healthy foundation for group members to grow.
Healthy things grow! Cast vision early for the growth of your group members and leaders. Whether your group is a social, study, or serve group, create an atmosphere where people can grow in community and their relationship with God. Just remember ESP: encouragement, scripture, and prayer.
Everyone needs encouragement. Some people need to hear they’re doing a great job while others need to hear things are going to be okay.
Empower group members by calling out the potential you see in them. For example, if someone is a great gatherer, encourage them to invite people to the group or even lead a group of their own.
You could also ask group members to share the responsibility of providing snacks, welcoming guests, and leading the discussion time.
The Word is life-giving and needed to experience spiritual growth. You can have a Scripture of the day or share a verse the Lord has put on your heart. It doesn’t require preaching; it’s simply encouraging people with the Word.
Make prayer a priority. Prayer is instrumental in building genuine community within your group and making group members feel cared for, connected, and encouraged. Prayer creates a way for each group member to hear from God, believe what He says, and obey Him.
Explore answers to some frequently asked questions about leading a group.
FAQHow do I invite people to my group?
A personal invitation is the best way to bring people into your group. Social media is another great way to spread the word.Who should I invite to my group?
Don’t be afraid to invite the people already around you. Group members don’t have to attend Gateway Church.
- Invite your friends and people you meet at weekend services.
- Invite people you work with or your workout buddies.
- Invite parents of children on your child’s sports team.
- Invite people you volunteer with at church or in the community.
Reporting isn’t numbers; it’s stewardship. It helps us track the engagement level of each person in your group. If someone misses a few group meetings, a need may have arisen in their life. Gateway’s Care ministry team takes note of that. Community is the first step toward healing and growth, and we want everyone to feel connected and supported.How do I choose a curriculum?
Any small group study in the Gateway Bookstore would be a good option. Remember, the goal for your group is to create a safe, welcoming place for people to grow together, no matter the curriculum or activity.