Developing Your Small Group Members

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How to develop your small group members

This article is for small group leaders who desire to grow in their own leadership and empower their small group members. These steps will help you to grow as a leader by encountering God and to recognize key leadership characteristics so you can invite others into leadership, too!


Start with encountering God

As you grow in your relationship with God, you'll be increasingly able to help your small group encounter God as well. As a small group leader, schedule regular times of intimacy with God and feel free to spend time enjoying Jesus' love and presence in your life.

Action step #1: Read Psalm 23

As a small group leader, you are also a shepherd, following the lead of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Psalm 23 describes the actions of a the Lord as our Shepherd. Write down from this Psalm the actions that the Good Shepherd does for us.

Take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit what the Good Shepherd wants to do in your life and in the life of your small group. Write down what you hear and proceed to the next step. If you hear nothing, do not be anxious. Enjoy God's presence as your Shepherd and lean into God's safety, nurture, and care.

After your hear from God, if what you hear is for yourself, ask God what is a way you can respond to what you hear God saying? For example, let's say you hear that God desires to lead you to still waters and restore your soul during a turbulent time. Find a quiet place and invite God's restoration. Do restorative things as you continue to meditate and pray through Psalm 23.


Characteristics of a good leader

Of course, no leader is perfect. And as a leader, you can expect to fail at times. That’s okay! It’s more important to keep learning and depending on Jesus, rather than get it all right all the time. Still, when thinking about leadership, here are some STELAR* qualities you’re looking for:

  • Spiritually Healthy: You continue to develop as a disciple of Jesus in word, deed, and power, as you learn to trust Jesus’ leadership in each area of your life.
  • Teachable: You want to grow in your relationship with God and want to learn from a variety of people.
  • Emotionally Healthy: You desire resilience in and awareness of positive and negative emotions, how you react to them, and how your actions impact others.
  • Leadership Potential: You positively influence your friends both inside and outside of InterVarsity.
  • Available: You are willing to make sacrifices of time and energy to be present for others, as God invites you.
  • Reliable: You follow through with commitments that you make and grow in the maturity to draw boundaries of what you can and cannot commit to.

*Characteristics from Jerome Mammen

Tip: Sometimes, a "trouble-maker" might be a leader in disguise! Potential leaders don't always make for good members or followers. Often, when gifted leaders are young, they have big ideas, energy and passion that can clash with you or other leaders. Keep in mind that they will need help working through this, but don't dismiss them either! As you partner with God to invest in students like this, they are often called to do apostolic work like evangelism or planting new groups. Be loving, firm and clear with them and also help them find a good mentor!

Action step #2: Identify & Invite

Are there any members of your small group who have demonstrated any of these characteristics? Write down their name and pray for them. Consider inviting them to step into leadership and reach out to them and start a conversation. This conversation can include going through this Bible study from Matthew 14:22-23 together to help them think through Peter's experience walking on water and consider growing in their leadership.

Text of Matthew 14:22-33
Stepping into risk questions based on Matthew 14 passage


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Accelerated  Resource

This resource has been tested and approved by InterVarsity’s National Strategy & Innovation team for campus ministry. Explore more resources by visiting the Accelerated Small Group Leadership Collection.


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Anna serves as InterVarsity's National Director of Discipleship & Growth. She has the joy of innovating and strategizing with staff, students, and faculty around the country to follow Jesus. A second generation Chinese American born and raised in NYC, Anna was a social worker in a pediatric AIDS clinic before serving with InterVarsity. She has both a MSW and BA from NYU. She lives in Queens, NY with her husband and two daughters. Anna enjoys eating adventures with gracious people. 

Dave serves as the Associate National Director of Growth and loves to integrate growth and discipleship holistically. He and his family near Ann Arbor in Michigan where he has been a volunteer, Associate Regional Director and everything in between before his current role. He is nearly finished with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies at Regent College in Vancouver.