Starting a Weekly Small Group for Men
My First Small Group
I will never forget the first time I led a small group of men. Leading that group was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. The anticipation of considering who I should invite, considering what we might study, and even the nervousness of wondering how the men might interact was a thrilling leadership moment for me.
Well that was 25 years ago now, and I will tell you after leading thousands of men through small group experiences, I still feel some of that same exhilaration. It just does not go away. Maybe this is because men do not change and there is always something new about the next group that will challenge me as a leader. So if you want to learn about leadership, then lead a small group of men over whom you have little to no positional leverage only influence, and try to convince them to follow.
And as the founder and leader of my non-profit organization, Resolute, I will tell you that leading a small group is just as challenging as starting and running your own business or ministry. How about that for leadership training!
Yet over the years, I have learned a few things about leading groups of men. Especially how to start well. And I tell our leaders that there are three things you need to identify to get off to a strong start. I always identify these things before I launch my small groups, and while some details will come after you gather men, most can be defined before you start. So here are you’re my three “M’s” of starting a small group. Identify the Men, Materials, and Meeting logistics.
Identify the Men | List The Men You Will Invite
The best place to start is by making a shortlist of the men you want to invite. You may have men in mind and you may not, but I would address this early on because the men you invite in some ways determine the materials and direction you will go. And the reverse is also true, the materials you use will determine the men you invite.
For example, if you are leading and mentoring men through a life-stage, then life-stage materials might be the focus, and this will decide the type of men you will invite. If you are working with men who might be young in their faith, then a general discipleship focus might be best for the time, and this too will decide the type of men you invite. You might also be shooting for social activity, service, or general Bible study group and each of these moves determine aspects of how the gathering will function.
Identify the Materials | Know the Materials You Will Use
Some men when invited are going to want to understand how the group is going to function – this is where material and group function come together. At this point, it is important to note that there are different “materials” for small groups that will influence the “type and dynamics” within that small group. So as a group leader, you have to be careful about what you choose. Men will opt-in and opt-out based on the dynamics set by the materials. As a person who has utilized and written all types of content here are a few general categories of which small group materials will fall into.
- Care & Support Group Materials
These types of groups use care as a focus and usually around an area of pain. Examples would be, a Grieving Parent Group, Armed Services Parent Support Group, Financial Peace University Group, Divorce Care Group, or Celebrate Recovery Group. Their chief goal is to provide mutual support during a season of challenge or pain, that others who have not been in that situation might not understand. These types of materials are vast but have support or care focus. These can be highly attended and even oriented to the general public which can be helpful for the congregation.
- Study Group Materials
Study groups often have an education focus. These are usually led through tracks, or semesters like a college class and focus on comprehension of biblical content. Bible Study Fellowship or Community Bible Study are great examples of this type of material and focus. Often there can be homework and study required out of class. If you are hungry for education, then a focus like this might work for your group. This requires a pretty knowledge leader or leaders to direct the time, which are experts in a field of biblical study.
- Social Groups & Life Stage Materials
These groups are often focused around meals and gathering around general life-stage topics. They are usually “lighter” and “looser” in topic and format. But for people that are looking for Christian friends without tons of homework and some content, they will love this approach. Content for these types of studies could be any book on Christian Living with small group discussion questions. Of course, it will require you to read before the meeting so that you can contribute to the discussion. These types are often lean more to the community aspect rather than the content aspect.
- Discipleship Group Materials
Discipleship groups are typically centered on process and missional living. Often, they shine a focus on the gospel, the teaching of Jesus, and the responsibility we have as a church. While more general in focus, they do tend to be less focused on life-stage material and more focused on taking the gospel outward. Often replication is a key goal. Someone who is hungry for the gospel and living it out gets a lot out of this experience.
While there is no right or wrong approach, these materials focus the group type and are accentuating one factor as the predominate focus of the group time. One is not better than another as all serve a similar purpose – to help men experience community around God’s Word. And remember your leadership of the material makes all the difference.
Identify the Meeting | Pinpoint When & Where You Will Meet
Finally, you must identify the logistics. Logistically some leader will want to accommodate everyone, but this will never be possible. You might include 90% of the men you invite, but some will opt out due to conflicts with the time and location. That is why I would do this early and see if men even have the slot open. But make sure it works for you, I have accidentally made that mistake one time - no joke. Here are the two logistics that I recommend you figure out now, and you can let the men decide the rest together – When you meet (time frame,) and where you will meet (location.) Nail that down, and you are ready to go.
Men, materials, and meeting.
So, what are you waiting for? Go for it. If you are looking for material for your men’s group or are looking for help with your small group leadership, reach out to us a www.beresolute.org or send us an email.
Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.