Small Group Process

GroupFirst some ground rules for running an effective Small Group:

  • Be clear about the purpose of the group.
  • Always have a welcome, introduction, and “ice breaker” technique for the beginning. This could be as simple as a short check-in process. Hospitality may be part of the welcome, depending on the group. Make sure everyone says something in this intro period.
  • Make sure the time commitment is clear. There’s no need to be slavish about the time, but people need to know what commitment is expected of them.
  • Do not be afraid of quiet times if this means people are reflecting; be afraid of quiet times if this means people are afraid to speak, or the conversation is something no one wants to engage in.


  • Most groups are “seasonal”—meeting for a four or six week period a few times a year.
  • Some groups are year round, meeting monthly.
  • Some groups are year round, meeting weekly.


  • At the group leader’s home.
  • At a host’s home (different from the group leader).
  • On the church’s premises.
  • At some other, public venue where groups can meet (e.g., coffee houses, desert shops, taverns).
  • Make sure all the settings are comfortable, accessible, and safe. If you are using private homes, make sure proper cautions are paid if children are present.


  • Be clear about expectations of confidentiality.
  • If this is a study group, perhaps confidentiality is not key.
  • If this is a sharing group, then participants should feel safe in sharing.
  • If this is a group for re-engaging Catholics, then confidentiality expectations need to be clearly asserted near the start of each meeting.
  • If people violate the group process (e.g., arguing, yelling, acting inappropriately), the group leader should address this, preferably after the meeting.

Group Process

  • The purpose of the group is the group experience itself.
  • No need to make sure all questions are treated, so long as the group has a solid experience of sharing with each other.
  • Allow the prayer experiences to go where the Spirit leads; make sure everyone is comfortable about these directions.
  • Some prayer may lead to periods of quiet.
  • Some prayer may lead to sharing singing.
  • Some prayer may lead to “extraordinary” experiences.

Concluding Small Group Season

  • Have a way to thank the small group leaders.
  • Develop an evaluation form for the leaders to fill out, for the participants to fill out.
  • Have some kind of concluding celebration when the sessions are done if this is a seasonal effort.
  • Prepare for one season for the next season—i.e., information about start dates, encouragement to invite others to groups, finding more or new group leaders.