20 Quick Tips for Small Group Leaders

Last week, I led a small group leaders training session at an amazing youth ministry, with over 40 adult leaders and coaches.

We shared back and forth and came up with some great tips. Try sharing these with your leaders. I really like 9 and 18.

  1. If you will listen to them during the week they will listen to you at the group.
  2. It’s not enough to teach them trivia. You are aiming for life change in every lesson.
  3. Connecting with you is great. Connecting them with each other is even greater.
  4. Break the prayer barrier in your group. Faith is activated as students pray out loud.
  5. Involve students in as many ways possible. Maximum involvement results in maximum life change.
  6. Pray daily for each student like you are in a fight for their soul. You are!
  7. Never ask your students to do something that you are not doing yourself.
  8. Don’t pretend to be more spiritual than you are or try to come off looking more righteous than you are.
  9. Don’t be afraid of silence. Wait long before you bail them out.
  10. Imagine that you are responsible for the purity, health, and growth of their soul. Pray lots.
  11. Wear your love for Jesus on your sleeve.
  12. Share your faith not your doubts. Work through your doubts then share your story.
  13. Break the sound barrier early in your group. Get’m clucking like chickens if you have to.
  14. If you miss their birthday you must do the polar bear plunge or spend a 1000 years in purgatory. <smile>
  15. Respond to their texts in full sentences as soon as possible after you get them.
  16. Do an activity outside of the church once a semester.
  17. Get to know their parents. Get a home visit in if you can each year!
  18. Show as much interest as possible in what they love. Read their poems. See their drawings. Listen to their songs.
  19. Love their friends as much as you love them. When you reject their friends you reject them.
  20. Hold off on giving advice. Let them generate possible solutions for their problems.


I have another 10 that we came up with that I would love to send you if you email me. Either that or stay tuned for another post on small groups this year.

 But hey, these are what we came up with. What are some quick tips that work with your small groups?

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Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email ron.powell@vanguardcollege.com


  1. Stephen Sesinksays:

    Great tips and I think a lot of them are really worth following. Number 7 I think is extremely important. I have to say I disagree with 12. I think they need to see that we have had to work through doubts and that the faith is a growing process. To claim that we have all the answers and have all confidence I believe is fake and being untruthful. Instead in those times of doubts which we all have I think we should point them towards the faithfulness of Christ and who he is. Also number 10 I think is a quick way to lead to burnout. Yes you do definitely have some responsibility but it is not completely on your shoulders.We have to have a trust in God that he will continue the good work until completion. Just my thoughts

    • Steve,
      Great thoughts! About the doubts, I think what we were saying is that we should work through them first then we can talk about them. I hear you about the burnout. Taking total responsibility for their souls leaves God out of the equation. Ultimately it is their choice to follow the Lord.
      Really appreciate you weighing in!

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