Building Community within Your Group

August 04, 2023

 How well do people in your group know each other? While group members may come to learn more from God’s Word, we know from Jesus’ example with His “small group” that He wants us to share more than answers and insights. Here are some things my group does to build community together:


Share what God is doing. Every time we meet, we begin with an opportunity to share “God sightings,” moments when God showed up in our lives in a specific way. Sometimes these are blessings. Sometimes people share how God used them. As leader, I share big things and small things to demonstrate that God is active and expects me to live out my faith in others’ lives. Choosing to be vulnerable has made a big impact on group cohesiveness. So I make sure to share if God spoke to me about something, but I didn’t follow through or struggled with my attitude about it. My group knows I’m still growing and letting God stretch me.


Allow for discussion. My goal as a leader is to speak less than 50 percent of the time, and for half of what I say to be asking questions and expanding on what someone else has shared. To get people comfortable talking, almost all the questions I ask don’t have right answers. I’ve also found it helps to give people advance notice to be ready to share if it’s something more significant or personal, so I give a heads up early in the group time about a sharing question that will be coming up. I call on each person to share, but I always give them the option to pass. This also helps me make sure that the same people don’t monopolize the conversation.


Here’s a visual of three types of group discussion: Traditional, leader-centered, and true interactive; I work toward true interactive discussion each time we meet.


In traditional teaching the leader does most of the talking and the group rarely responds:

Discussion that is leader-centered looks like spokes of a wheel. Conversation almost always comes back to the leader. When I have each person share, it can look like this:

 Discussion that is leader-centered looks like spokes of a wheel. Conversation almost always comes back to the leader. When I have each person share, it can look like this:

Discussion that is true interaction should look like this:

This is my goal—for people to talk with each other, rather than only responding to me. After your group meets, reflect on which of these types of interaction happened. When true community is reached, interactive discussion results.


Evaluate your room layout. Is your meeting space conducive to building community? If you meet in the sanctuary or any room with rows of chairs, interaction between group members will be limited. Try to meet in a space where everyone can face each other. We’ve recently transitioned to small tables within a larger room to accomplish this. Now clusters of people can talk together and then share with the larger group.


Recruit others to build relationships. Relationship takes effort, and God has gifted some people to be really good at connecting. As the leader, you are focused on the teaching content, so think about others who can help relationally.

  • Who is always comfortable talking with strangers? Ask them to welcome visitors.
  • Who loves to send cards and is good at follow through? Ask them to coordinate sending birthday cards to members.
  • Who is comfortable with hospitality? Ask them to host the group.


Your group will have other ideas like this. Those who share suggestions are often those God is calling to grow in their giftings.

Follow up on prayer requests. How often do we ask for prayer requests and then forget to ask for updates? We sometimes forget to keep praying, and we’re embarrassed. Is there someone in your group who follows up on your requests? They’re a great candidate to keep the group informed on prayer needs. Consider starting a group prayer log, online or in a journal, to record how God moves. A couple in my group calls each member monthly to pray with them individually. This has deepened how connected people feel to the group, too.


Connect on social media. Collect people’s phone numbers and start a text thread. Share their phone numbers with group members (with their permission, of course). Find out who’s active on Facebook and set up a group. Invite everyone to share prayer requests, devotional insights, and encouragement with the group. Make sure to share highlights and updates during group time too, to keep those who aren’t tech savvy connected.

Do church projects togetherthis is a great way to build community. An upcoming youth event needed volunteers, so our group signed up to serve. Our meeting space needed refreshing; we planned a Saturday paint day and tackled it together.

Serve your community. Look for ways your group can meet some of the community’s needs. One person in our group has a passion for homeless people, so we all pitched in to prepare and serve a meal to them. Raking leaves, making simple repairs, and helping people move are other ways to be a blessing together.

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