Serve Opportunities

Small Group Ground Rules

Small Group Ground Rules

Click here for the Word document version. 

This is the “operating system” of a small group.  This is the most important piece to building an authentic community.  These rules provide the boundaries of a space that is safe to be real, authentic and vulnerable so that Holy Spirit can do its work.  We live, act, and talk differently in a small group!  Developing this kind of environment takes time, team-work, and a lot of trust. 

 At the first gathering, go over these rules in detail and why they are important. Make sure they understand and agree to them. It is helpful to remind them each week of the rules and how to maintain them.  Finally, it is critical that you ensure the group follows these rules.  Interrupt any conversation in order to remind them to adjust their talk.


1. Safe Environment This is a judgment free zone! Feel safe to be your authentic self.

6. Pause—Allow a pause after someone finishes to provide room to consider what was said before responding.



2. Accountability—Everyone’s help is expected to make this safe.

7. Silence—Expect and welcome silence. Consider it sacred space for God to speak.



3. Confidentiality—What is said in the group stays in the group, unless permission is given.

8. RespectDon’t try to solve or fix each other. Just receive what they share (even if you disagree) as a gift. Offer encouragement, speak truth, point to Jesus.



4. “I” statements—Speak for yourself-your beliefs, feelings, responses. It’s easy to talk about the issues of others, but we want you to put yourself on the table.  Use “I” statements rather than “them,” “the church,” “us,” “we,” “you.”

9. Honor-- Honor the different ways God works in individuals. Resist the temptation to console or offer condolences, as it may lead some to stop sharing, or try to fix.



5. Listen—Try to avoid thinking about what you are going to say next. Avoid “cross-talk” and interrupting.

10. Sharing—Be sensitive to the amount of time you share.  Recognize that all group members are invited to share aloud only what and when they are ready to share.