No one came.
You prepared snacks, you cleaned the living room, and you sent out a text message reminding everyone about it, and yet no one came to your Lifegroup. We have good news for you, though. Across the world, there are faithful small-group leaders like you who are diligent and hospitable but struggle week after week to get the rest of the group to show up or engage.
Do you feel like you get a lot out of Bible study but it’s getting harder and harder to experience that feeling of growth in God because no one else seems as interested in it as you do? In this article, we’ll share 5 simple tips with you that’ll get the rest of the folks in your group to show up AND be just as riveted by the small-group community as you are! (Even if you’ve tried everything else!)
1. Remind everyone why they’re here in the first place.
Do the people in your small group seem like they’re perishing? The Bible says that “where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Pv 29:18 KJV) One helpful way to reinvigorate a languishing group is to cast vision.
Casting vision is as simple as reminding them why they’re coming to the meeting in the first place. Entrepreneur Simon Sinek teaches that the “why” is the most important thing to communicate to inspire others to action. It actually accesses the part of our brains that are hardwired for decision making! He further goes on to explain how valuable it is to start with the why, so we would suggest casting this vision at the beginning of your group’s meeting.
But I’ve tried that already, we can hear you say. It didn’t work!
There’s a popular saying in ministry circles, and that is that vision leaks. In other words, people forget. It’s part of our nature. Why else would God command his people to remember all He has done for them so often throughout scripture? So here’s our tip: Even if it gets repetitive, begin every meeting by sharing the vision. Don’t know what to share? Acts 2:42-47 is a good place to start:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
2. Ask good questions.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus was so engaging? It might be his teaching style. In the four Gospels, we see that Jesus asks 307 questions, told 46 stories (parables), and only preached one sermon.
We’re all for a great sermon, but we live in a day and age when anyone can stream a sermon from any of the best preachers in the world with the stroke of a keyboard! So, if you intend to present your Lifegroup members with the latest teaching that has been brewing in the back of your mind, you might be hard-pressed to keep them awake.
Instead, why not try to become the best question-asker in your church? Think of good, open-ended questions to ask your guests during Bible study. Deceptively simple questions like:
- What does this passage teach us about God, His character, and what He does?
- What does this passage teach us about mankind, including ourselves?
It’s questions like these that often lead to in-depth discussions and allow the Holy Spirit to take the driver’s seat of a conversation. A helpful way to judge whether or not you’re doing a good enough job asking questions is to remember the 70/30 rule:
Try to make sure you are only talking about 30% of the time and that the other 70% is everyone else sharing their thoughts.
3. Allow the Holy Spirit to assign homework.
Have you shema’d anything lately?
Sorry, it appears as though a little Hebrew found its way into this article. But this particular Hebrew word is an interesting one because it has no English counterpart. It’s also such an important concept that this passage from Deuteronomy is popularly referred to simply as The Shema:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
The word Shema in English is translated in this verse as hear. But actually, it could be translated as do, obey, or put into practice. In the Hebrew language, there was only one word for hear and do. That’s because, in their minds, there was no distinction between hearing something and doing it. And it makes sense. For example if you heard about long division from your math teacher, but you never sat down and worked on a problem, then you haven’t truly learned anything, have you?
So, if you want the other members of your small group to get as much out of their time as you do, we encourage you to make sure they don’t leave without homework. Just remember that coming up with the assignment is God’s job. At the end of each meeting, you could lovingly invite your group to pray together. Have them ask the Holy Spirit to give them an idea of one practical thing they can do that week to put into practice what they’ve learned. Bonus points for checking with them the following week to see if they did it!
4. Get them to share.
Imagine a slimy pool of stagnant water in the jungle somewhere. It’s green with algae and has a million mosquitoes buzzing around its smelly surface.
Want a sip?
We didn’t think so! But this disgusting image is a metaphor for spiritual gluttony. Think about it. When all we do is receive new insights and revelation—Christian books, sermons, conferences, and Bible studies—but we never pass those along to others, we’re not living as true disciples of Jesus. We’re living as consumers.
Contrast this with a babbling brook or a stream of living water. Only when fresh water is constantly running in—AND OUT—is a river healthy to drink from. Consider Paul’s advice to Timothy:
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 2 Tim 2:2
If you really want your Bible study members to come back week after week, challenge them to share what they’re learning with someone else in their life.
5. Tell them to start a small group of their own.
While you’re at it, why not challenge them to go ahead and start a group of their own? In the four Gospels, Jesus constantly empowers his disciples to engage in ministry for themselves. We see this on display when he sends out the 72 in Luke 10. Many times, when people don’t feel like they’re making a meaningful contribution, they become less engaged. By challenging them to start a group themselves, not only do you call them up, but you also create a hunger in them to continue attending the small group you host.
To recap, if you are struggling to keep your life group or Bible study afloat in the face of waning attendance, some incredible ways to introduce a shot of vitality into your group are:
- Cast vision at the beginning of every one of your meetings.
- Get the group to talk more than you by asking great questions.
- Allow the Holy Spirit to challenge them with an action point at the end of each meeting.
- Encourage them to share everything they are learning with someone else.
- Challenge them to start their own group.
If you stick to these 5 simple tips, there is no way your small group will remain stagnant. That’s why we created the Waha Disciple Making Course. If you want to reinvigorate your group to engage with God and one another while making a meaningful impact on their community, this is the best place to start. And it’s completely free! To get started, head on over to wahatraining.com. You can even share this trailer with your group to get them excited about going through it together: