Andy Peck

Expanding Your Small Groups

One of the key issues for growing churches is: how do I find enough leaders for my small group ministry?

This is especially tough if the church has set the bar for being a small group leader high: ‘We are looking for people who have read through the Bible at least once, spend an hour a day in prayer and regularly lead people to Christ.’ (Yes I am exaggerating, but only slightly)

I want to say, that while it’s true that not everyone can lead a small group, and not everyone would want to, we don’t need to be afraid of the leadership word.

There’s a leader in all of us.

My thinking behind this statement comes from the biblical idea that leading is part of everyone’s DNA. In Genesis we read that every human is made in the image of God (Gen.) 1:27. And whilst scholars have no consensus on what exactly may be included within that, the context gives us a clue. In verse 28 God commands Adam and Eve to take care of the planet: ‘God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. (NIV)”

John Mark Comer wrote in his book, Garden City:

‘The word rule is radah in Hebrew. It can be translated “reign” or “have dominion.” It is king language. One Hebrew scholar translated it as “to actively partner with God in taking the world somewhere.”

What if God has placed a desire within all of us to lead?

The truth is that Jesus’ teaching was largely addressed to disciples, who became the leaders of the church. If we think Jesus’ teaching applies to us, and who wouldn’t, and if we are serious about following Jesus we have (perhaps unwittingly) signed up to learn how to be leaders!

Many of us are not leaders in the sense of calling people to ‘follow us’ somewhere. But if leadership is influence and we are all called to be a godly influence wherever we are – which for many of us in churches – could being a godly influence mean being a leader in a small group setting?

Some people may not be ready to lead: they have stuff to sort out, an ‘old life’ to disentangle from, and new godly habits to prioritise. But everyone has the prospect of being a faithful and godly influence. And those who have sensed God helping them reach a degree of maturity might well find a small group leadership role a thrilling place to serve God.

If your church is looking for new small group leaders, make sure you have the right criteria. Maybe your problem is not a lack of potential leaders, but with the criteria you are looking for?

For more on a biblical view of leading check out my latest book, The Leadership Road Less Travelled: leading as God intended you to (CWR).

Andy Peck, teaching team, CWR

Investing in yourself as a leader

Have you seen those adverts (usually from a bank trying to promote itself) that try to reassure you that they care about you, even if you’re not a brand new customer? They’re sending out a pretty effective message. Everyone wants to know they’re still appreciated, being invested in and are valued even if they aren’t a new customer. The same goes for church, for small groups and for leaders.

At Small Group Central we want all leaders, whether they’ve just been asked to lead a new group or have been hosting a small group for decades, to know that they are valued. And, in addition, to know that there’s always room to grow and learn more. You may have been running a group for 30 years, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t new ideas and new ways that you could approach leading your group.

Your church might be great at providing support, checking in with you and making sure you feel cared for and listened to as you give your time and energy to caring for everyone in your group.  Even if this is the case, it cannot be denied that it’s important to keep your skills up to date as a leader, to keep learning and trying new things.

Proverbs 18:15 says, ‘An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seek knowledge’ (ESV).

John F. Kennedy said, ‘Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.’

Training and learning are so important. Not so that you can have ‘all the answers’, or know more than the members in your group, but so that you have more to share and can help guide others in your group.

Why not start something new in your small group, refresh your leadership skills and come along to the Small Group Essentials course being run by Andy Peck in March. The seminar will explore what makes an effective small group. Look at how you can measure and access the potential of your group.

It will teach you to understand group dynamics and the stages a small group goes through. You’ll get tips on pastoral care for your group and make space for fellowship with other leaders, swapping stories and ideas.

Give yourself the opportunity to learn something new and explore the potential of your group.

To find out more and book a place, visit the website or call 01252 784719


About Emily Owen

Emily dreams of travelling the world and writing about the great things she sees God doing along the way. Whilst waiting for dreams to come true she happily works for CWR, plays a lot of netball and is trying to learn Spanish.

‘Would you mind taking someone new?’

You receive a phone call from your Small Group Co-ordinator. Someone is new to the church and wants to join your group. Will you take them?

Does your heart leap with joy at welcoming someone new to enjoy the delights of your group? Or are you thinking, ‘Oh no! We like it the way it is!’? Be honest. (Of course, you may be thinking, ‘Great! Our group is lousy. Maybe they can improve it.’ – but that’s another story …)

It is an issue that faces small groups in every church and it is not easily solved in the short term if your groups have been structured in such a way that welcoming a newcomer is unexpected. I am here assuming a classic structure of small groups that meet for Bible study, prayer and fellowship, made up of Christians at different levels of maturity. In such groups one aim is to build deep and close relationships in which our honest journey with God can be shared. If you have been set up as a group and have been merrily working to build trust and intimacy, you can understandably feel that a newbie would spoil the dynamic. Many groups do resist newcomers for that reason (and occasionally because of space considerations) – I get that. It would be like a family being asked to have someone live with them long term. That family will never be the same.

But all that said, if groups can be set up for growth from the very start, with the assumption that people may join, you start off on a very different footing. That phone call becomes a sign of God’s work and potential blessing for you and the newcomer(s).

It doesn’t mean that groups shouldn’t develop appropriate levels of connection, just that you have to be deliberate about how the newcomer is helped to feel at home. For a start it helps if the small group co-ordinator who allocates people to groups knows a little about the person and can make a judgment about the best group that might suit them. At the first meeting invite the person (or couple) to share a little of who they are, or meet up with them beforehand for a brief chat. This will depend on their temperament and maturity, of course, but can give the rest of the group a head start on how to best connect. You can also spend time helping them to know how people contribute in this group, what the aims are, brief them on any stuff that might assist them (Bob is hard of hearing, Alice has just lost her husband, Mary has an autistic son …)

If the groups are set up for growth, the group’s DNA includes that expectation that the group will grow and will multiply.

This whole issue of welcoming newcomers is not unimportant, for the very attitude that is nervous about welcoming a newcomer to a small group could be embedded within the church, preventing growth. We may think our church is friendly, which is code for ‘my church is friendly towards me’. Outsiders can have an altogether different experience. Church services full of in-jokes and references to people the outsider has never heard of are subtly saying, ‘We are family; you are not.’ At least not yet.

So I sympathise with groups that want to remain as they are, and would not force them to take newcomers – they are adults after all, and there’s no statutory obligation! But the ideal is that the small groups set up mirrors a healthy whole church mentality of being keen to welcome people to grow and flourish within the small group set up. It will be a challenge, but you can be sure that God will be right there with you.

About Andy Peck
Andy is a writer and Bible teacher who has served as a tutor with CWR since 2006. He is the author of Coached by Christ, A Life to Die For and co-author of Unlocking the Bible. He worked as an editor with Christianity magazine and hosts the Leadership File on Premier Christian Radio.

Small groups rebooted

Are you finding that your small group ministry is not quite hitting the mark? Perhaps attendance is mixed or particular goals are not being met.

Andy Peck takes a fresh look at the role of the small group and the ways in which they can be used to serve church purposes at our Small Groups Rebooted courses

The material is designed both for those leading a small group for the first time and for more experienced leaders. The course will cover:

  • Assessing what your group can do
  • Setting goals and keeping on track
  • Understanding group dynamics
  • Stages in the life of a small group
  • The possible roles of the small group leader
  • The small group leader and the pastoral care of group members

If you would like Small Group Rebooted, or any other CWR course or seminar brought to your church or small group, you can email or telephone 01252 784719.


About Andy
Andy Peck has been involved in various forms of Christian ministry for nearly 30 years. He serves as a full-time course leader for CWR and has an undeniable passion for small groups, championing how they aid discipleship and build strong relationships within the Church.

Small Group Leaders’ Toolbox

What makes for an effective small group?

On 9 July 2016 , we held a Small Group Leader’s Toolbox at Waverley Abbey House where Andy Peck helped unpack the question ‘What makes for an effective small group?’ This seminar included practical insights and ideas designed both for those leading a small group for the first time and for more experienced leaders.

If you would like Small Group Leader’s Toolbox, or any other CWR course or seminar brought to your church or small group, you can email or telephone 01252 784719.


About Andy

Andy Peck has been involved in various forms of Christian ministry for nearly 30 years. He servs as a full-time course leader for CWR and has an undeniable passion for small groups, championing how they aid discipleship and build strong relationships within the Church.

Small Group Essentials: That awkward moment…

We’re back with another series of video blogs looking at some of the common questions and issues that often crop up in the life of a small group.

This week we’re looking at what to say when someone says they are leaving and how, as a leader, you can handle this proactively.

Comment below and let us know what topics you would like to see us cover.

Small Group Essentials: What every group ends with – prayer

This week Andy goes deeper into the topic of prayer offering some spiritual reminders and practical pointers on how to handle prayer within the context of a small group setting.

To catch up on previous episodes click here.

P.S. If you have watched one of our videos before you may be wondering why Andy’s ‘chair’ keeps changing? Well, we’ve noticed that at most small groups you end up sitting on the most bizarre collections of furniture, and so we thought we would give him the same treatment!

Get Involved

We would love to know how you approach prayer within a small group setting! What works well and what doesn’t? Find out how you can get involved and join the discussion here.