Close this search box.

6 Ways to Grow the Number of Small Groups in Your Church


Share This Post

Many churches have small groups in order to foster community among their people. However, small group ministry can be challenging at times. One of the biggest challenges can be growing the number of small groups that your church offers. If you are at a place where you would like to see more small groups in your church, then take a look at these 6 ways to grow the number of small groups in your church:

1. Find More Small Group Leaders

In order to create more small groups, you’ll need to find more small group leaders to lead those groups. Before you begin looking for those new leaders, consider how you can raise excitement about the small groups at your church. Share stories on a Sunday morning, on social media, in newsletters, etc. about the life change that is happening in your current small groups. If possible, identify a sermon that can help encourage people to get involved. 

Think about your other ministries and consider who might be a good fit to lead a group? Has anyone shown promise in leading a small group of people, even for simple tasks? Are there people who have some spiritual maturity and have the potential to lead a conversation in a small group?

Another solution to find more leaders is to raise up leaders from your current small groups. Maybe your current small group leaders could pick 1-2 weeks this semester where they let others in the group be “guest leaders” for a week? Then, your small group leaders can assess if those people have potential to be future small group leaders themselves. 

Some small groups may have co-leaders, and once the small group grows big enough, it can split into two groups. Then, the co-leaders could each take one of the groups and raise up another co-leader for that new group.

2. Create Reasonable Expectations for Small Group Leaders

As you consider how to find small group leaders, make sure your current expectations for small group leaders and participants are reasonable. For example, in many churches, requiring weekly attendance in small groups would be a bad idea – it would mean that the small groups wouldn’t exist! Consider your people, their schedules, and their needs as you think through your expectations for small groups. 

For the leaders, it would be ideal for them to lead their small groups the majority of the time, but perhaps you could encourage them to raise up a second leader for their group who can lead it when they are out of town on occasion. If you provide training for small group leaders, plan it at a time that works best for their schedules. Consider moving some of your training online to a video platform. 

Get creative and make sure your expectations for your small group leaders are reasonable. If you do this, then you will begin to attract more small group leaders over time.

3. Bring Clarity to the Role

If someone doesn’t have experience leading a small group, then the thought of leading a group can be very intimidating! Bring some clarity to the role by creating a short “job description” for the volunteer role that lists the responsibilities. Then, consider creating a short list of “small group leader tips” that provides them with some insights from other small group leaders.

The more clarity you can bring to the role that you are inviting them to take on, the more receptive they will be to accepting your invite!

4. Church Leaders Model by Leading Small Groups

If your church leadership wants to grow the number of small groups in your church, then it would be wise for them to set an example and lead small groups themselves as well. When church leaders start new small groups, it shows the entire church that small groups are valued and essential to the church’s DNA. 

Some church leaders will want to keep pouring into the same small group, but others may want to take part in multiplying the number of small groups in your church by starting a new one. They can raise up an individual or couple in their current group to lead that group, then step out and start a new small group themselves.

Church leaders should also receive training on how to multiply their groups by raising up leaders from within their own group. Then, other small groups can learn from their example and raise up future leaders as well.

5. Create Different Types of Small Groups

In order to grow the number of small groups in your church, you may need to consider providing various types of small groups. Here are some examples:

Member Types:

  • Age-based: These groups are organized based on age or life stage. People often join these groups to spend time in community with others close to their age or life stage. 
  • Intergenerational: These groups consist of people of various ages and life stages. People in these groups often enjoy learning from others who are in a different place in life than they are.
  • Gender-based: These groups are either men-only or women-only. They often focus on gender-related topics or specialized topics common to that particular group.

Study Materials:

  • Sermon-based: These groups hold a small group discussion based on the Sunday sermon. Often, discussion questions are provided from the church for these groups.
  • Missional: These groups focus on living out their faith locally, nationally, and/or globally. They often study books related to outreach and set aside time to serve together in addition to their small group meetings.
  • Topical: These groups focus on a biblical topic of interest and study that topic, either by studying select Bible passages or by going through a Christian book on that topic.


  • Home Groups: These groups meet in a home. They might meet in the group leader’s home, someone else’s home, or rotate through different homes throughout the year.
  • Church Groups: These groups meet at the church, in whichever space is available during their preferred time frame.
  • Food Groups: These groups meet in restaurants, coffee shops, and other fun gatherings places with food. 

What is Provided:

  • Childcare Provided: These groups require childcare during their meeting time, usually because the parents have younger children.
  • Food Provided: These groups provide food in order to encourage participation, or to make it easier for the participants to make it work with their schedules.

Group Type:

  • Open Group: These groups accept new group members at any time. Once they get too big in size, then they usually split into two groups.
  • Closed Group: These groups accept new group members until they reach their desired “max” number of people. Often these groups start out as closed groups, since the group members decide to form the group based on their existing friendships.

Time Length:

  • Short-term: These groups form for a short period of time, spanning from several weeks to multiple months. They usually form as a part of a program or class, then either turn into their own small group upon completion or dissipate. 
  • Long-term: These groups stay together indefinitely, continuing to meet on an ongoing basis.

Offering a variety of different groups can help involve people who may only be interested in a specific type of group.

6. Raise Up Small Group Coaches

Lastly, as we wrap up the 6 ways to grow the number of small groups in your church, you may need to raise up some “coaches” who can help develop your current and new small group leaders throughout the year. Often, a staff member or key volunteer is responsible for this, but as you add more small groups to your church, you will find that this person only has limited time to provide coaching for the small group leaders. 

By adding coaches, the ministry leader can focus on coaching a few of the coaches, who in turn can coach the small group leaders as they lead their groups.

There you go! Hopefully, you will consider implementing these 6 ways to grow the number of small groups in your church. If you haven’t implemented any of them yet, then start by picking 1-2 of them first, then continue to take steps forward and implement the rest of them at a later time.

Related: Essentials for Successful Small Groups

Lead412 Newsletter

Get free ideas, articles, and resources by joining the Lead412 mailing list. This monthly newsletter is privacy protected and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Continue Reading

Leading Change in Your Church
Church Growth

Leading Change in Your Church

This is a guest post on “leading change in your church” by Paul Huyghebaert, who serves as a Lead Minister in FL. You can learn

Open Source Software for Churches

Open Source Software for Churches

This is a guest post on embracing open source software for churches and how they can enhance your church operations. It is written by Micheal