How can you build strong small group relationships?

Aug 9, 2018 7:00:51 AM / by Kelly Bakalich

Small group of people talk in a living room | Sparkhouse Blog

Each small group is going to look very different to the next. When we ask ourselves, “what works best for small group adult studies?” our minds are filled with several combinations of what will work and what won’t.

In this blog post, we aren’t going to tell you how to spend your time, but instead, learn three key tips to build and strengthen small group relationships so you can have the best time with each other.

Small group relationships built on trust

Considering all personality types, most people would agree that it’s difficult to be 100% open the first time meeting someone. That’s where get-to-know-you games, or ice breakers, are perfect for the start of the small group season. After a few weeks, the group will start to be comfortable with each other, but may still have hesitations with really talking about what’s going on in their lives.

There’s a wise saying that goes, “It takes several acts to build trust and one act to break it.” Past trials that have broken trust affect how we treat new people in our lives. This is where church small groups need to have a discussion and create a basis of trust that works for them. Often times, small groups agree that “what is said in the group, stays in the group.” Remember to have this talk at the beginning of your small group time to help create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their hearts.

Tying in faith

Bible studies, spiritual book series, hangout time – all small group setups revolve around faith components. If you’re creating a brand new small group, to help participants feel invested, let them decide how they want to spend time with each other. Some will build long-lasting relationships to last a lifetime!

Getting people to be all-in

What a joy it is for every single person in your small group to be all-in for each other and for God! Most would assume this is the first step to a successful adult small group. Although this is a crucial part of small group culture, it needs to be viewed as an end goal.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to hold people accountable. If someone hasn’t showed up in a while, give them a call and ask how they’re doing. People don’t want to feel pressured to come to the small group; they want to want to come. Showing that you’re invested in their lives will give them a reason to see the group again.

Last bit of advice

For all of the leaders reading this blog post, here’s a last reminder: know what you can provide your group and what you can’t. Be confident in the knowledge and wisdom you can share with your group and show your passion for them and God. That goes such a long way!

But also know that you don’t have to have all the answers. Each one of us has a unique history and can provide wisdom and insight to the others in a small group. Lean into group members to offer advice because they can relate. And if that doesn’t work, connect with a trusted elder or mentor who can provide resources to you.

Most of all, have fun as you build small group relationships! This is special time in life where we get to come together as Christians who share the same passion and love to serve the same mission.


Need a topic for your next small group? Check out Sparkhouse’s newest small group series, Dialogues On, that helps you tackle tough topics and turn conflict into community.


Topics: Adults Ministry, General Ministry

Kelly Bakalich

Written by Kelly Bakalich

As a marketing specialist at Sparkhouse, Kelly serves ministry leaders by sharing Sparkhouse's news through events, webinars, and emails. Outside of work, she volunteers as a youth small group leader at her local church and is inspired by her students’ desire to learn each day. Kelly also enjoys learning about health and fitness, hiking, camping, and playing volleyball…especially volleyball!


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