Chris Surratt: Leading Small Groups

Leading Small Groups
(B&H, 2019)

WHO: Chris Surratt, discipleship and small groups specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources.

HE SAYS: “We must always gather as a group, not just for the sake of gathering, but for the goal of helping people develop into mature believers.”

THE BIG IDEA: This book explains how to successfully gather, launch, lead and multiply a gospel centered small group.

Divided into four sections, this book includes practical tips and questions for group discussion or personal reflection.
Part 1, “Gathering Your Small Group,” looks at what makes a group leader, the importance of creating biblical community and how to prepare for a small group. Part 2, “Launching Your Small Group,” discusses recruiting and advertising a small group and how to start off right.
Part 3, “Leading Your Small Group,” covers hospitality, serving, facilitating a meeting, being on mission and doing a Bible study. The book wraps up with “Multiplying Your Small Group” explains the importance of multiplication.

“Discipleship is not a static process. It will always involve movement toward something. … As each person is growing spiritually, they will discover their spiritual gifts and, in turn disciple someone else.”

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Why are small groups such an essential part of the Christian life?

We can see the first example of discipling through a small group from Jesus. He gathered 12 men who would first be discipled by the master and then sent out to disciple others. It is then further modeled for us by the early church in Acts 42. They gathered in the temple courts for worship and teaching but then met house-to-house in small groups. This method of discipleship is now carried on by small groups meeting in homes, clubhouses, coffeehouses and classrooms around the world.

It is clear from scripture that we are not meant to walk this life alone. Gathering a small group of believers brings accountability, friendship, support and spiritual growth that we cannot get anywhere else.

One element from this book is left out of lots of small group philosophies: how to multiply. Why is multiplication a key ingredient to a healthy small group?

Second Timothy 2:2 lays out the framework for creating generations of disciples: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

If you look at this passage closely, you see four generations of disciples represented. Paul is the first generation. He invested in the life of Timothy—that’s generation two. Then Timothy was to commit what he learned from Paul to faithful men—that’s our third generation. And the faithful men are meant to teach others also—generation number four.

The only way that we are going to create generations of disciples is by multiplying small groups. A group that stays together too long before multiplying can become inward focused. Healthy things grow and eventually multiply.

Two of the common problems small groups face are cohesion and consistency. Either they just don’t click, or people don’t attend consistently. What can small group leaders do in the face of those two problems?

It’s important that small groups are launched well with the right expectations. A lot of small groups have difficulty getting traction because the expectations for members are not clear from the beginning, or there is a lack of consistency with the frequency of group meetings.

Set expectations by answering these questions to establish a clear vision statement for the group from the beginning: Why does this small group exist? Why would someone commit time that they may not have each week to attending the group? Then after the group has started, the meetings have to be consistent and the details communicated clearly. People will stop showing up if the group meetings keep changing.

Chris Surratt
Chris Surratt

Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with more than twenty years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Team at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and Seacoast Church in Charleston, South Carolina, prior to becoming the Discipleship and Small Groups Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources.