How to Bust Small Group Busters

Do these small group busters sound familiar?

  • Sarah routinely arrives fifteen minutes late.
  • Jennifer derails the discussion to superficial topics.
  • Stephanie attends half the meetings and rarely notifies you when she's not coming.
  • Tina never says a word.
  • Marie, on the other hand . . .

Leader, are you getting a headache yet?

Busters Because . . .

Small group busters often arise when expectations aren't clearly established from the get-go, or when a healthy group cruises on auto-pilot, and bad habits creep in.

Busters Busted

Many small group busters you bump into can be averted by establishing a community covenant. A covenant is an agreement expressing group practices, expected behavior, and shared values. When members sign their "Jane Hancock" on the document, it validates mutual agreement and responsibility for a positive community experience. A covenant also serves to avoid unmet expectations and misunderstandings.

The best agreements specify a time limit. Will it last for one year, or for the length of a particular study? At subsequent intervals, review key points of the covenant during a group meeting. As the leader, you'll be expected to winsomely enforce the guidelines as need arises.

Read on for eight suggested values to include in a group covenant. Then customize it to fit your group needs.

8 Small Group Values

  1. Confidentiality

    What I hear and see in the group will stay in the group.

  2. Authenticity

    I will be as open with my life as I can be at this time.

  3. Love

    I will affirm you no matter what you have said and done in the past. I will love you as you are now and pray for God to continue to transform you into the likeness of His Son.

  4. Accountability

    I will ask the group to hold me accountable for specific areas of my life. With my permission you can ask me about the goals I set regarding God, my family, my personal life, and the world. I expect you to lovingly not "let me off the hook."

    On the basis of Proverbs 27:17, I ask you to please share with me areas in my life that do not reflect Jesus, because I want to grow in personal holiness.

  5. Prayer

    I promise to pray for others in my group on a regular basis, lifting them up to the Lord.

  6. Encouragement

    I understand every woman in this group is at a different point in her journey with the Lord. I will accept you the way you are, but encourage you to progress in becoming more like Jesus.

  7. Commitment

    I will have my work completed when I come to group. I will choose to attend each weekly meeting even if I fall short. I will make every effort to be present and on time. It will have high priority in my schedule.

  8. Participation

    I will do my part to keep the discussion centered on biblical truth and the text we're studying. I will contribute to the discussion without dominating. I will be sensitive in allowing members to share equally as we grow in Christ together. Scripture will be our final authority.

How will you incorporate a Small Group Covenant to bust pesky group busters?


About the Author

Leslie Bennett

Leslie Bennett served as a Director of Women’s Ministries for a dozen years prior to joining Revive Our Hearts in Women’s Ministry Initiatives. She is the editor of two ebooks: Women’s Ministry Leader Survival Guide and 10 Truths to Set Leaders Free.

The Lord captured Leslie’s heart for biblical womanhood and revival at the national True Woman conference in 2008. Since then, she’s been spreading the message of how a woman’s femininity adorns the gospel wherever God sends her. Spend a few moments with Leslie, and you’ll catch her passion for the Word, prayer, revival and discipleship. She and her husband Mac live in the S.C. Lowcountry where she loves drinking sweet tea and encouraging women to treasure Christ above all.

Contact Leslie at