EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was previously featured on adultministry.lifeway.com

Leading a group for the first time can be scary and exciting. Every good small group leader has been there and learned from the experiences that allowed them to blossom into an experienced leader. There are four important things to know and do before your very first group meeting:

  1. Preparation is key

This may sound obvious, but it’s still one of the most important things you can do as a leader. Be as detailed as you feel you need to be to be able to present the material, Scripture, and anecdotes to your group in a way that will be conversational and approachable. Dig into commentary, maps, leader guides, podcasts and anything else you can find to study that passage or topic from all angles.

  1. Be OK with silence

In my opinion, this has got to be the hardest part of leading a group. Silence is a natural part of almost every group discussion, and oftentimes, it’s a good thing. Your group may be silent as they think of an answer to a question, or it could be because they aren’t comfortable answering in that setting. Either way, it allows you to give yourself time to rethink the question or ask another follow-up question. Silence can give you time to reevaluate the progression of the lesson and think of ways to pivot conversation if need be.

  1. It’s OK to not know an answer

This is a scenario that every single group leader has found themselves in. You’ve done all the prep work that you felt you needed and asked all the right questions, but a group member asks a question you weren’t prepared to answer. It’s okay to not know the answer. I would argue that it’s better to be a humble leader by acknowledging that it’s a great question and stating that you need time to answer it after you do some more digging. No one expects a first time leader to know all the answers. It’s important to remember that you are learning and growing in your faith and Biblical literacy as you lead your group. And acknowledging that fact publicly to your group can be a powerful leadership moment.

  1. Study how to become a great small group leader

If this is your first time in any leadership role, then you might feel more nervous than others who are initially leading a group. You can take advantage of this opportunity by reading blogs and listening to podcasts on how to be a great small group leader. We have a robust group leadership category on our blog, including countless posts on how to become a great leader.

Another great tool would be to listen to the Group Answers podcast where our hosts speak to leaders to learn their tips and tricks for their ministries and groups. A new episode is released each week to resource, train and encourage small group leaders.

Just remember that you are not alone in this endeavor of group leadership. You have been called to do this and should pray for the Lord to speak through you during your group time. No one expects perfection from you, so don’t put that pressure on yourself.