Starting Your Group

After you have been approved as a small group leader, here are some tips on starting your group:

Welcoming People to Group

The first place to look for people to join your group is within your natural relationships.  Starting a group with people who know each other is far easier than starting a group with strangers.  If this is not a possibility, people can be sent your way from the Small Group Connect Meeting.  This is our entry point for those who are new to the church or for those who don’t naturally connect to groups.


 Steps to Following Up on People from the Connect Meeting

  1. You will receive potential group member contact information through e-mail.
  2. Attempt to connect with them by e-mail and phone within 24 hours of receiving their contact information.
  3. As you connect with them, describe your group to them and get to know them.
  4. Invite them to visit your small group.  If the new member is not able to meet with your group due to meeting location or time, let your small group staff contact know.
  5. If they join your small group, update your roster so that they are included as members of your group or email the Small Groups Team to let them know.

back to top

First Weeks

“Life-change happens best in Biblically functioning communities.”

“Get to Know You” Phase of Small Group

Your group is brand new and, as a result, morale is high even though people do not know each other.  Everyone is just excited to be a part of a group.  The priority of the first few weeks is building relationships with one another.

Ideas for Your First Few Meetings:

  • First Week- Group Formation Meeting Social time to connect and begin to get to know each other.  Need to decide where the group will meet next week.  Preferably someone will step up to host the group meetings.  This is the last meeting to which the leader can come to unprepared.
  • Second Week- Dinner and Get to Know Each Other This is primarily a social time.  Discuss with group what they want out of the group and do an informal icebreaker.
  • Third Week- Icebreaker and Testimonies Participate in a teambuilding activity to break the ice. Leader and apprentice (if someone is an apprentice) along with other group members (if comfortable) share their testimony.  Prepare the group to develop a covenant next week.
  • Fourth Week- Develop a Covenant Work as a group to communicate what is important and what will bind you as a group.
  • Fifth Week- First Night to Do a Study We encourage you to wait until this point to do a formal study.  You, as leader, should pick this study.  As you choose the study, keep these things in mind:
    • Do a short study- 6 weeks or less. Finishing a study is reinforcing for the group and helps you know what to do in the next study.
    • Do a relationally intensive study. Relationally intensive studies will let you get to know each other as you study.
    • Avoid controversial or heavy topics to begin with.

Click here for a printable version.

back to top

Developing a Group Covenant

“A Covenant is a Road Map to Where We are Going.”

What is a covenant and why do we need one? A covenant is a contract between group members that defines the direction of the group and the commitment required to meet group goals. Covenants are developed by each small group to serve as a guide for their group life. Since  groups develop their own covenant, each group has its own personality and can meet the needs of the people involved.

Questions that can help your group form a covenant:

  • How do we want this group to impact our lives?
  • What commitments will it take from each of us to make that impact?
  • Are we willing to make these commitments to each other?

Essential elements to include in a covenant:


  • Confidentiality What is said in the group stays in the group unless it is determined that a person is in danger of hurting themselves or someone else. In this case, the appropriate Small groups Staff member will be notified to help. Nothing said in the group should be discussed outside the group without the permission of those involved.
  • Respect Others We do not advise, analyze or “fix” others. We are to support, encourage and admonish each other towards Christ-likeness and always in love.
  • Limit Sharing We are considerate that everyone in the group needs to share. We will be sensitive not to dominate the group discussion times and limit our discussion.
  • Regular Attendance We will make a commitment to our group to show up at the appointed meeting times, be on time and end on time. When we cannot attend, we will call the host to let them know.
  • Listen Everyone needs a listening ear. When someone is talking, they have the floor. Everyone else should actively listen.
  • Conflict Resolution Whenever relationships are involved, there will be conflict. We will handle the conflict biblically according to the guidelines of Matthew 18.
  • Avoid Offensive Statements and Jokes We are all on the same team. We should, therefore, guard against offending one another. If someone offends us, we commit to work it out directly with him or her.
  • Branching Plan Begin now to develop and state your branching plan.
  • Be Prepared Come ready to fully participate in your group including completing any homework.
  • Scripture Scripture will be taught in such a way as to be applied to life and will be in line with the MBC Doctrinal Statement.
  • Socials and Service Projects We commit to building community and impacting our world. These activities are as important to attend as the study time.
  • Benefits of a Covenant:
    • Vision for group is clear.
    • Responsibility of group members is stated.
    • Conflict resolution is expected and planned.
    • Branching is an event to anticipate and celebrate.
    • Whatever you don’t cover in your covenant will haunt you.

Click here for a printable version.

back to top

Group Start Studies

These studies will help group groups establish a firm foundation of community understanding and relationships to help their groups get off to a good start.

Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them
by John Ortberg

This is not a book for normal people to learn how to handle difficult people—there is no such thing. This is a book about how imperfect people can pursue community with other imperfect people.

Click here to purchase from Amazon.


by Bill Hybels

In Community, you’ll learn how you can forge strong, meaningful ties with others and with God. You’ll find out how to move beyond superficial relationships and build lasting friendships. You’ll learn how to debug common, harmful relational “viruses” in yourself and set healthy boundaries that will protect you from the viruses of others. Finally, you’ll discover the importance of extending community to those who haven’t experienced God’s love for them. Discover a richer depth in your relationships. Community will help you build friendship, marriage, and family bonds that are satisfying and lasting.

Click here to purchase from Amazon.

Groups:  The Life-giving Power of Community
by John Ortberg

Community is God’s idea. Only in community can we know and be known, love and be loved, celebrate others and be celebrated by them. And only through close, transparent relationships can we be transformed as individuals. Groups invites you to enjoy the rewards–and embrace the risks–of community. Step by step, this study will challenge and encourage you to explore the amazing potential for growth found in authentic relationships.

Click here to purchase from Amazon.

Community: Your Pathway to Purpose by Andy Stanley

MBC has this DVD available for you to rent. Please e-mail Deirdre at to see about availability.

Community. It’s a word we often see, but what does it really mean? And why is it so important in the context of our spiritual lives?
In this study, specifically designed for new small groups, you will learn that community is essential to spiritual progress. Community builds you up and adds the element of accountability to your spiritual life. Without a group of close friends that share common goals, it is easy to get discouraged and veer off course in your relationship with God. But a supportive small group will walk with you during the natural difficulties of life. Whether you are a skeptic or a long-time Christian, you need community.

You will spend the first sessions of this study getting to know your other group members—where they have come from and where they are now. Then, during the remaining sessions, you will discuss the importance of community and how to stay on course. Study guides are recommended for each group participant. The DVD has been designed to complement sessions 5-7 of the study guide for you to watch as a group and contains messages by Andy Stanley that will introduce you to the importance of community.

back to top