Coaching Resource: 7 Ways to Suffocate Your Small Group

7 Ways to Suffocate Your Small Group

Are you a new small group leader or host? Has your small group already launched and started rolling? Hopefully by now your group has gathered a few times, experienced genuine community and everyone is excited for the future! However, when it comes to leading a small group, there is something important you must know: Many start fast, few finish strong. In the end, your small group’s success will rise or fall on your leadership! It does not necessarily matter how big your group starts or how great your curriculum may be, what matters most is that you are breathing life into your small group and not suffocating the life out of it by doing the following…

#1 Don’t Pray

• Since praying for your small group family is one of the most important and powerful things you can do as the leader, make sure that you don’t pray! Instead, just hope that all of the issues and challenges your friends & church family are facing will fix themselves. It’s easier to just say “I’m praying for you,” then to actually take the time to do so!

#2 Communicate Poorly

• Effective small group leaders communicate in advance with their group members through email, phone and social media to answer the following questions: Where are we meeting? What time are we meeting? Is childcare available? What do we bring for food? Therefore, communicate poorly by not giving any clear direction or information. Just assume that everyone will figure it out!

#3 Create a Cold Atmosphere

• Because vibrant small groups grow in clean, warm and inviting atmospheres, make sure that yours is the opposite! For example, do not vacuum, clean or de-clutter your house! Don’t dim the lights or have worship music playing in the background to set the mood! And to make things really uninviting, allow for distractions like the TV blaring, the phone ringing and the animals running!

#4 Hide the Food

• Being that food is a staple of successful small groups going all the way back to the early church in Acts, as well as the Gospels where Jesus was breaking bread with his small group of twelve disciples, make sure you hide the food! Do not ask members to bring food, don’t set out any food and certainly do not give anyone refrigerator rights to eat your food!

#5 Come Without a Plan

• Since time is limited, wise small group leaders come with a plan to answer the following questions: When do we eat? When do we start the Bible study? What is the Bible study? What specific questions will generate discussion? What is our prayer focus? When do we end? Therefore, don’t have a plan! Instead, let the clock tick away and let everyone feel the awkwardness of wondering what’s going to happen next!

#6 Lead Without Passion

• Because passion is contagious, because attitude is everything and because your faith and expectation as the leader will set the bar for everyone else, don’t show any passion whatsoever! Instead, do your best to become distracted, act bored, speak in a monotone voice and treat the gathering like it’s just one more thing that you have to do!

#7 Dominate the Discussion

• Since great small group leaders know how to facilitate discussion and create an interactive environment where everyone has a chance to share, make sure this does not happen! Instead, try to talk the entire time and don’t let anyone get a word in edgewise! If someone should dare try to say something, talk right over them!

So, if instead of suffocating your small group, you desire to breathe life into it and see it grow spiritually and numerically, please do the opposite of each point above!


  • Derek Olson

    Derek loves espresso, the outdoors and is passionate about building biblical community! He has been active in small group ministry since 2004 & is honored to serve as Pastor of Small Group Network Development at Saddleback Church.

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Daniel Thomas

Connections Director


Daniel serves as Executive Pastor at Community Church of Mountain City, TN.  Daniel and his family are on a mission to establish roots within their community, fight for peace and serve well.  He serves as our Connections Director in laying the groundwork for Circles. He loves great coffee and traveling with his wife Tia and two children, Deklan and Aden



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