12 Things Not to Say in a Small Group

12 Things Not to Say in a Small Group

You’ve been leading your group for a while now. You know everyone’s names. You picked out just the right curriculum. You know the crazy-busy-clean-your-house-like-you-live-dust-free-all-the-time hustle and bustle.

And you know what to say. You’ve memorized every popular catch phrase like a boss.

  • “We’re here to do life together.”
  • “Come as you are.”
  • “We’re better together.”
  • “PTL!”
  • “God is good…(pause for dramatic effect)…all the time. And…(pause for dramatic effect)…all the time, God is good.”
  • “Sometimes you just gotta let go. And let God.”

So you know what to say. Kind of.

But last week, you said something, and when you did, you noticed a look. That look that says, “Umm…why did you say that? Did you really mean that? Because I thought this place was safe? I thought I could be honest here? I thought I could be myself? I thought you loved and respected me?”

You know what you should say. You know what you need to talk about, but you’re not so clear on what you shouldn’t say.

I think I can help, because I’ve seen these statements wreck the community we’re all striving for in our small groups.

1. Well, that was sure a dumb question.

Don’t ever say this or anything that sounds like you’re critiquing someone for a question they asked. There are no dumb questions.

Repeat that after me.

There are no dumb questions.

Now that we’ve covered that…

2. Will you pray out loud?

To which you say, “Wait, Ben, are you saying our groups shouldn’t pray?” To which I’d respond, “Of course not!” To which you’d say, “Then what the heck are you saying?”

Should we really make it the goal of our groups for everyone to pray out loud? Think with me for a minute. Who were the people in Scripture that got in trouble (oh, yes they did) for praying? The ones that prayed out loud for others to hear.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” —Jesus, Matthew 6:5-6

Praying out loud isn’t necessarily a mark of spiritual growth. Help people to pray. But don’t force people to pray out loud. Most will hate you for it because they’re deathly afraid of voicing their intimate conversations with God in front of you.

3. Well, in the original Greek…

Stop. Just stop. We’re not impressed with you. Or, if we are impressed with you, is that what you really want?

4. Will you look up Ezekiel 18:14?

Make it a little easier. Say something like, “Let’s turn to Ezekiel 18:14, on page 568.” Or, go ahead and make it a lot easier by saying, “Just get out your phones and open your Bible app.”

5. The Bible is difficult enough to obey.

Let’s not put a barrier between our groups and obedience.

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Ben Reed
Ben Reed is the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN, area. He holds an Mdiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ben is also an avid coffee drinker and CrossFitter, but not at the same time. Catch up with Ben at BenReed.net. In his book, "Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint," he helps leaders through the process of putting a small group ministry together and creating a place where people belong so they can become.