A Guide for Small Groups


Here's a no-assembly required approach for leading a small group.

Christ said that where two or three gather in his name, he is present (Matthew 18:20). The clear pattern below can guide you in gathering weekly with other believers to listen together for God's guidance using the meditations from The Upper Room daily devotional or The Upper Room Disciplines.

Small groups usually have guidelines such as these:

  • Participation: Each person is encouraged to discuss the day's questions. Anyone may choose to "pass" (not speak) at any time, without explaining why.
  • Prayer: Group members pray for one another between meeting times.
  • Personal focus: Members talk about their own experience rather than about others and refrain from giving advice.
  • Confidentiality: What is shared in the group stays in the group.
  • Agree to disagree: Differences of opinion and interpretation are inevitable. We will listen to one another with respect, and we will not attempt to change one another's minds. Our shared desire to know God is more important than any differences we may discover.
  • Gentleness: Members deal with one another tenderly and kindly, being careful to assure that they are "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).

Your group can discuss these guidelines and add or delete items as group members choose. Many groups post or review their guidelines during each meeting as a reminder of their covenant with one another.


Here is a simple plan for a one-hour, weekly meeting based on daily devotional practice. We recommend you follow the weekly theme in Disciplines or use the Wednesday meditations from The Upper Room daily devotional. One person may act as convener every week, or the role can rotate among group members. You may want to light a white Christ candle each week to signal the beginning of your time together.

Convener: Let us come into the presence of God.
Others: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for being with us. Let us hear your word to us as we speak to one another.

Convener or another group member reads the suggested scripture passage. After a one- or two-minute silence, convener asks: What did you hear God saying to you in this passage? What response does this call for? (Group members respond in turn or as led.)

Convener or another group member reads aloud the chosen meditation, allowing silence afterward for reflection. The convener asks: Where do these words connect with your life? What touches you? (Group members respond in turn or as led.)

Convener directs group members to the discussion questions (specific to the Wednesday meditation in The Upper Room and based on the week’s scripture in Disciplines). The convener reads each question in turn, allowing group members time to respond after each question. In addition to the meditation-specific questions, the convener can ask:

  • What actions were you nudged to take in response to this week’s meditations?
  • Where were you challenged in your discipleship this week? How did you respond to the challenge?
  • In one sentence, what "word from the Lord" do you take away from our time together?

Praying together:
Convener asks: Based on today's discussion, what people and situations do you want us to pray for now and in the coming week? Convener or another volunteer prays about the concerns named.

Convener says: Let us go in peace to serve God and our neighbors in all that we do.

© 2014 by Upper Room Ministries Inc., P. O. Box 340004, Nashville, TN 37203-0004. For information on books that you may use as small-group study resources, visit the Upper Room Ministries bookstore.