Small group worship part one – the practical stuff

I believe in the verses from the Psalms ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord’ and at times my worship sounds like noise, but it is always joyful.

We’ve all been there, squashed into a room with someone who is learning the guitar and someone starts to sing, either off-key or too high for the blokes in the room. It soon dissolves into a mishmash of unheavenly, yet joyful, noise.

Here are some things I have learnt about small group worship over the last 35 years along with some hints and tips:

  • Keep the songs simple – the latest worship songs can be really wordy and there are so many great songs and choruses out there that whatever your churchmanship you can use – you can hardly go wrong with Majesty by Jack Hayward or All Hail the Lamb by Dave Bilborough just to mention a couple. Importantly these are songs that allow you to fix your eyes on Jesus.
  • Embrace Modern Technology – You can buy DVDs with a range of songs, both ancient and modern, that display the lyrics on the screen as you sing along.Online video sites like YouTube allow you to play worship songs through a computer and also free music players like Spotify where you can create a playlist where your chosen songs play one after another.

Hints & Tips:

The free version of Spotify does have annoying adverts that randomly interrupt!

Invest in a wireless speaker that connects to your phone if you want to get better volume!

Check with your small group host that their Wifi is up for the challenge as there’s nothing worse than your worship being interrupted by buffering!

Keep the sound levels at a reasonable level so that people aren’t embarrassed to join in with the songs. And print out song words if the songs are wordier. Also remember older members or people with hearing aids may have difficulties if there is music playing and people singing at the same time.

Remember the aim is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the one we adore rather than trying to sing higher or better than the person next to us. This also allows quieter people & the ones who don’t think they can keep a tune to feel they can worship without focusing in on them.

Lastly worshiping together should be uplifting and a great way to collectively focus on Jesus. It can remind us that God works through us when we join with our friends to honour Him.


By Anthony

Ant has been leading and attending small groups for 35 years. Next month he and his wife Catherine, who is a worship leader in their local church, will co-write a blog for us to share some more wisdom and experience on worshipping in small groups.

Fresh ideas for… worship in small groups

I don’t know about you, but when I think about the act of worship in a small group, I imagine a group of slightly awkward-looking people standing around in a circle, tentatively singing Shine Jesus Shine. There is nothing wrong with this picture – Shine Jesus Shine is, in fact, a great song – but it raises the question, how do you worship in a small group?

Inevitably, there is no right or wrong answer to this. Everyone chooses to express praise and adoration to God in their own, personal way – that’s why the act of worship is so amazing! However, worship in a small group dynamic faces its own unique demands and challenges in comparison to worshipping alone or in a large group. Here are some ideas that may help small groups engage in natural, heart-felt worship…

1. Share a global communion

Introduce a different take on communion. In preparation, buy different international breads such as naan, chapatti, pitta, tortilla wraps etc. and a variety of drinks: red wine, red grape juice and a glass of noticeably dirty water (probably not to drink! It’s to remind us that there are people out there, including Christians sharing communion, who don’t have access to safe drinking water) and share communion together. Take time to remember believers all around the world who also share communion together, but who may not be able to worship as freely we can.

2. Take the group outside

Combine God’s Word and His creation in worship. Print out Bible verses that focus on creation and nature. Then, take your group to a local outdoor area, find a quiet spot, and spend time praying and reflecting on a passage each. Once the group is ready, spend time sharing insights, questions and thoughts on what has arisen during this reflective time.

3. Giving thanks

Invite each person to share something that they would like to give God thanks for since you started meeting as a group. Sharing thanksgivings with one another not only offers up praise to God as worship but it also builds the sense of community within your group.

4. The six-word challenge

Give everyone a pen and piece of paper and ask them to write praise to God using just six words (the words don’t need to form a full sentence). Each person then read the words aloud to one another and they can be used to guide worship within the group.

5. Sing together in your small group

Singing in your small group is a great way to worship together, provided you consider certain aspects. For example, when selecting songs, bear in mind the number of members who will actively participate – don’t choose songs that require the enthusiasm and momentum of a large group. Choose familiar songs with friendly keys to create an easy worship set. It will take a while for people to feel comfortable within the group when it comes to singing, so start with a prayer and plan some brief talking in between each song to relax the group. Focus on the connection between members and between them and God, rather than creating a performance.


About Charlotte Moore
Charlotte is a recent graduate, working to build her career in digital marketing and web design. When she isn’t working at CWR, she is playing drums at her church or planning her next holiday to a new destination.


Start local, think national, go global

One of my favourite things about my small group (other than the hobnob biscuits) is the priority we place on prayer. Sometimes though, we get caught up in only praying for each other and forget about things outside of our group.

A well-used prayer formula for things bigger than our own life bubbles is: start local, think national and then go global.

LOCAL – Pray for opportunities to be light in your community. Put down the hobnobs and go for a prayer walk around wherever it is that your group meets. Ask God for opportunities to love the community around you.

NATIONAL – Pray for our country’s leaders as we approach the EU referendum in June. Pray for the Church in Europe, that no matter what the outcome of the vote is, it might be united and continue to grow.

GLOBAL – I recently read a brilliant prayer on World Earth Day (April 22) written by Pope Francis. Maybe you could use the following lines as a start for praying for our planet?

‘O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in Your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.

Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognise that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards Your infinite light.

We thank You for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. Amen.’

Whether or not your small group prays for your local community, nation or global issues already, it would be amazing to turn the focus away from ourselves and pray for the things going on around us.

About Emily Owen

Emily Bio Pic smEmily 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.

Should we worship as a small group?

My immediate answer is absolutely, yes! Case closed.

On reflection I may be slightly biased on this topic because I absolutely love to worship. I love music and I love to sing. I love to experience the presence of God as I worship Him and surrender myself to His holiness.

However, this is not everyone’s experience of worship. If you aren’t musical or if singing makes you feel self-conscious, or you just really don’t see the point of it, then singing in worship can be a very uncomfortable experience. Especially in a small group setting where it is much more intimate and you can feel like you are right out there for everyone to see.

Despite this I think worship in a small group can be incredibly powerful if we use it in a correct and sensible way.

Let’s first look at why we should worship at all.

  1. We worship because God tells us to. The second most repeated command in the Bible is the command to sing. It is repeated over 400 times. Can God be any clearer about what He wants us to do?
  2. We worship because it invites the presence of God. Psalm 22:3 tells us that God is enthroned on our praises. When we worship God He literally takes His throne in that place. And when the presence of God is manifested amongst us, lives are changed.
  3. We worship because God deserves it. Our God is holy, awesome, majestic, creator of all things, King of kings, Lord of lords, Lord of heaven and earth, everlasting, all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-present, and therefore is due all that we have to give.

So that is great if we are in church, but how do we worship in a smaller, more intimate group? Here are just a few things that I have experienced in my journey.

  1. Only do it if you are comfortable. If you are a new group or you have a lot of people for whom it would be difficult, then don’t do it. Likewise, if you have a lot of people who aren’t Christians it may not be appropriate. If in doubt, ask your group how they feel about it.
  2. Give people freedom. Let people know that this is not a performance and it really doesn’t matter whether we can sing well or not. I have a good friend who is the worst singer I have ever heard, but he loves to worship and I love to hear him worship because it encourages me. We all need to be free to worship God to the best of our ability. And give people the freedom not to participate if they don’t want to. Don’t ever coerce people into worshipping.
  3. Sing songs that people know. If you are singing songs that only the leader knows then it will be a very quiet night.
  4. Keep going. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t go well the first time. It may just take a while for your group to grow into it.
  5. Pray. This is the most important thing we can do but unfortunately is often the most overlooked. Pray that God would bless your time together, that people would feel comfortable to participate and that He would be glorified.

About Michael Johnston

Worship as a Small Group (Michael).docx 2015-04-19 20-56-03Michael works as Music and Creative Arts Leader for Busbridge&Hambledon Church, Surrey. He is incredibly long-suffering as an Irishman living in England and patiently puts up with more potato jokes than you can shake a stick at. He is engaged to Amy and is looking forward to getting married in the summer.

Worship in small groups: Your thoughts

A big thank you to everyone who responded to our question about Sung Worship in Small Groups. There is still time to add your voice to the conversation – click here to find out more or just comment below. We’ll be adding more of your comments later in the week, but here is your starter for 10…

“We would love to hear other group’s experience on this – we have one guitar player in our group who we use about twice a term. I rather think we enjoy singing rather than really worshipping to music. Worship often follows meditation on a theme, or a DVD clip – we used part of The Bible TV presentation which we had recorded for Easter this term and you could hear a pin drop when we switched off – and this led into spoken worship.”

“Something happens in our hearts when we bring praise and glory to God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It’s a divine and supernatural connection with the Heavenlies… It is a very important part of meeting in small groups, to worship and adore him in song (I know there are other ways of doing this e.g. Bringing a psalm or meditating on a passage of scripture etc etc.) Also being open to the Holy Spirit’s leading and directing in choice of song rather than a hard and fast list of songs; yes by all means come with something prepared if you are leading worship… but be prepared to be flexible, as The Holy Spirit leads… [The] choice of songs is vast, but most importantly the choice should be ‘what helps your group to connect with the presence of God, and it will be different for different groups. It’s always worth experimenting, it can be surprising how this works.

Last point, in my experience small groups without worship have something missing; if you meet with the desire to have Jesus at the centre, worshipping Him does just that, and it’s good practice for eternity..”
Peter Dusek

We have found that singing within the group gives a lift to the atmosphere and provides variety of activity. Singing worship songs adds a new dimension to the meeting, beyond simply sharing ideas, opinions and needs. Our experience is that however small or untuneful the group may be, it is worth trying to sing if possible. It may be accapella, with guitar, or in a home with a piano and pianist. In some groups we would use music from CDs which gives a strong backing to the few voices in the group.
Pam and Mike Collier

“We (St Mary’s church, Stebbing, Essex) have a Thursday homegroup where we normally have sung worship to start the evening. Our weekly numbers fluctuate but eight would be an average. Each member has a song folder with loose sheets of worship song words and the music is usually played from worship CD compilations. Live recordings from conferences like Stoneleigh and Spring Harvest work well as folk feel part of the gathering.

I think in general our homegroup enjoy starting with sung worship, and if a worship song can be found which links with the subject for the evening, than all the better.”
Richard Wilcox

“Singing in small groups can be a bit embarrassing, but we have found that we can sing along to a CD, or sometimes just listen to a CD and sing in our heads, as it were.

Worship is a valuable part of a small group meeting.”