Transforming Congregations by Igniting the Spiritual Lives, Gifts
and Ministries of the Laity

Ron Farr Send E-mail to Ron Farr, Laity Empowerment Project
Telephone: (315) 583-5821

Unwrapping Our Gifts

Unleashing Our Weekday Ministries
Hearing God's Call
Newcomers Class
Small Group Program


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(Small Group Leaders Training curriculum for the local church)

Sample Article | Getting Started

OBJECTIVE: The Laity Empowerment Small Group Program equips congregations to establish and build up a comprehensive ministry of small, lay-led, faith-sharing groups (Bible study groups, support groups, discussion groups, mission groups) which:

  • Stimulate and deepen the spiritual life of its members

  • Increase love, caring and friendships among its members

  • Help people connect scripture to their daily life and work

  • Promote church growth by creating numerous “entry points” for new people into the congregation

  • Offer a gentle, natural strategy of evangelism that activates faith in unchurched people

  • Reach out and address specific human needs in the wider community (e.g. divorce recovery, AIDS spiritual support group, parenting group) in the surrounding area.

Churches serious about empowering the spiritual lives, gifts and ministries of EVERYONE in a congregation must have a plan to establish a whole range of small groups of differing types, topics, and levels of commitment that will reach out to and attract most members of their congregation.


Pastors or professional church staff with small group facilitation skills are able to lead ONLY one or two small groups per week. A group of trained lay leaders, however, can collectively run innumerable faith-sharing groups in their homes or at church, and at any time! Churches with established small group ministries have a process of regularly training and supporting small group leaders who in turn recruit and facilitate their own small groups on topics that personally engage them: Bible study groups or discussion groups (various themes), support groups (e.g. couples, singles, stress management), recovery groups (e.g. grief, divorce, chemically addicted), workplace ministry groups, or mission groups.

Small groups can meet weekly or twice a month. They can be short-term or long-term, low-demand or high-demand, and meet anyway from 1 to 2 hours per session. All small groups are committed to the priority of inviting new people.

Small Group Leaders, when actively leading a group, are required to attend support/supervision meetings occasionally. New small group leaders are trained periodically. Small Group Coaches, normally pastors and lay leaders enthusiastic about small groups, are given guidance on how to organize and lead their own leadership training events and oversee support/supervision meetings for small group leaders.


The Laity Empowerment Small Group Program provides a dual track training process, equipping both prospective Small Group Leaders and Small Group Coaches.

1. Prospective Small Group Leaders are lay people who have leadership ability, an active spiritual life, and a willingness to explore the adventure of leading a small group. They are trained to:

  • Recruit friends and church members for their group

  • Select an exciting small group curriculum of their choice

  • Lead effective discussion

  • Learn the art of asking questions

  • Troubleshoot group problems

2. Prospective Small Group Coaches are pastors and lay leaders desiring to promote the overall development of lay-led small groups in their church. They are instructed to:

  • Recruit small group leaders from their congregation

  • Train prospective small group leaders regularly

  • Support/supervise small group leaders as they lead their groups


The Laity Empowerment Project trains your team of “Small Group Coaches” and your prospective “Small Group Leaders” in either of two ways:

  • Option A: Attend a LEP Small Group Leaders Training Event: On a 24-hour training weekend, the LEP Director equips your “Small Group Coaches” and your first batch of prospective “Small Group Leaders,” either at a regional LEP Small Group Leaders Training Event in your area, or at your church alone (large churches only).

  • Option B: Organize and Lead Your Own Small Group Leaders Training Event: Purchase the Small Group Coaches Manual and lead your own SELF-DIRECTED Small Group Leaders Training Event at your church guided step-by-step by the curriculum contained in this manual. Purchase manuals by clicking on, “Order Materials.”

1. Option A: LEP Small Group Leaders Training Event (Fri. PM through Sat. afternoon) : In this hands-on “retreat-style” training event, prospective Small Group Leaders from various churches gather to learn the basics on recruiting and facilitating a small group, and are guided through the vast array of published small group resources. In addition to this training, the Small Group Coaches attend three, additional, short training segments during this event. Participants of LEP Small Group Leaders Training Events receive booklets or manuals according to the training they receive, and they make NO advance commitments to lead a small group or purchase LEP materials.

Find out about the next planned LEP Small Group Leaders Training Events by clicking on “Future Events.” Your church, conference, district, presbytery, or diocese can easily sponsor a LEP Small Group Leaders Training Event in your area or in your church by e-mailing to Ron Farr,

2. Option B: Organize and Lead Your Own Small Group Leaders Training Event: With Option B, pastors and gifted lay leaders, willing to serve as “coaches” from their church organize and lead their own training event in their church, using the step-by-step written guidelines in the Small Group Coaches Manuals. If you choose this option, click on “Order Materials” to find out about how to order a curriculum kit of 3 Small Group Coaches manuals and 15 Small Group Leader booklets. If you have questions about how this self-directed training option might work for you, call Ron Farr, 315-583-5821. Follow-up phone consultation is always provided when requested.

NOTE: Churches often set the stage for a small group ministry by first using high commitment LEP courses, such as UNWRAPPING OUR GIFTS or UNLEASHING OUR WEEKDAY MINISTRIES. These courses are designed to establish a pool of potential leaders and coaches as well as enhance a congregation’s desire for meaningful small group experiences.


At a LEP Small Group Leaders Training event, prospective Small Group Leaders receive a 75-page Small Group Leaders Booklet which contains helpful group guidelines, group session formats, and articles on how to recruit a group, prepare for the first session, be an effective facilitator of discussion, and trouble shoot common group problems.

Small Group Coaches receive an expanded 300 page, spiral bound Small Group Coaches Manual which contains easy-to-use curriculum for training prospective small group leaders, 10 guided support/ supervision sessions, publicity materials to recruit prospective leaders, guidelines on establishing a small group resource library/display table, and helpful articles on how to establish a small group ministry in your church.

The LEP Small Group Program materials are ecumenical, use inclusive language, and based on mutual empowerment principles in which Small Group Leaders and Small Group Coaches learn from and empower each other. Small Group Leader Booklets and Small Group Coaches Manuals, of course, can be purchased anytime by clicking on “Order Materials.”

Sample Article | Getting Started

Unwrapping Our Gifts  |  Unleashing Our Weekday Ministries  |   Hearing God's Call
Newcomers Class  |  Small Group Program
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