Help! I’m a Struggling Small Group Leader

Do you ever look across your living room at the sweet faces in your small group and think, “I love you all dearly, but I really don’t know what I’m doing right now”? 

The first night my small group met in my home, I lit cinnamon-scented candles in the living room and waited for women to arrive—and I prayed. And paced. And prayed. My step count always spiked on Tuesday nights as I asked the Lord for wisdom and words, boldness to address tough issues, and encouragement that I wasn’t messing everything up. 

Sometimes it doesn’t matter whether or not you have years of experience or a seminary degree or a long history with the women you have the privilege of leading. That twinge of inadequacy can sneak in the moment your women’s ministry director stops you in a hallway at church and asks if you’re available for the role . . . or midway through meeting when group dynamics shift . . . or when the women bring up questions or confessions you don’t know how to address.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a small group starter pack that included a red emergency phone you could set on your coffee table and pick up when you needed leadership advice? Revive Our Hearts doesn’t sell anything like that, but the ministry does have a group of women with the wisdom so many of us are looking for. Whether you are in your first or twentieth year as a small group leader, the Revive Our Hearts Ambassadors are here to help. 

In this interview, Jessica Edwards and Monica Lozano, two Revive Our Hearts Ambassadors, share advice for leading with vulnerability and grace, navigating difficult situations within the group, and guiding your women to live out the truth of God’s Word. 

Small Group Leader to Small Group Leader 

K: What would you say to the small group leader who feels ill-equipped for the role she’s in? 

Jessica: My key verse for personal ministry—especially when I feel less than equipped—is 1 Thessalonians 5:24: "He who calls you is faithful; he will do it." He will do it. My job is to walk in obedience. 

Make sure your roots are digging deep in your own personal walk with the Lord. Your ministry will be an overflow of that. Fill your own cup first with God’s presence because it's hard to pour from an empty one.

Monica: Pray. That’s when you’ll find peace in the Lord’s calling. Most of us are going to deal with that feeling of inadequacy—not just at the beginning, but even for years to come. Learn to find safety and security in God’s presence. Those feelings can be the catalyst to intimacy with Him as you seek Him, abide in Him, and learn to trust Him.

K: How can a group leader help women get beyond surface-level topics and prompt spiritually meaningful conversations?

Jessica: It's helpful as the small group leader to begin to invest one-on-one in the ladies before and during the course of the small group season. If you build a relationship where the women knowthat you love them and want to invest in them, it's easier to get them to open up in small group discussion because there’s a level of trust.

Monica: I ask intentional questions like, “What is something that you feel like you must have?” “What are your fears?” Direct questions reveal the state of our hearts and are a starting place to look at the heart of God. 

K: How can a small group leader “go first” and lead with vulnerability without making the group about her?

Jessica: We see from God’s Word that the apostle Paul shared from his own life. I think “going first” happens when we share from personal experience, yet we always need to make sure that we go back to Scripture as the authority.

Monica: When we are leading a small group, in a way, we are replicating ourselves. Other sisters in Christ will learn from our example and often end up imitating our faith. It’s important for us to be openly aware of our own weaknesses and humbly remain dependent on God.

K: How do you gently steer comments and discussions that are not biblical? What tips do you have to avoid embarrassing women when they share?

Jessica: Stare at them with a slow blink. Just kidding!

Seriously, one of the things I try to be is a life-giver, not a life-taker. I try to thank them for sharing and then maybe ask a question like, “Does God’s Word have anything to say about this?” I want to communicate that God’s Word is the final authority, the plumb line. 

If the topic is something too controversial, or if it’s something I don’t know the answer to, we “shelve” it. I’ll then seek counsel from the leadership of the church as to how to answer before getting back to them with a response.

K: How can a leader help establish unity within a diverse group of women? 

Monica: Welcome the struggles and the differences. Remember: the Lord built the group with eternal purposes. Always, always, always, point to Christ, who He is, and what He has done. Expect God to surprise you with ideas and ways that your group can learn to serve each other. 

K: What are some of your favorite ways you’ve seen God work through a small group? Help a leader cast a vision for what God could do through her new group this year.

Monica: One of my favorite things happens when the Lord surprises our group by illuminating something in Scripture through the power of the Holy Spirit and captures our hearts in a fresh way. I love moments when a woman realizes: “The more I know God, the better I know myself.” 

Jessica: Much of what I have seen the Lord do in small group dynamics is what He has done in growing my faith as a leader. I have also seen how He has used small group studies to convict and transform lives through His Word: marriages have been strengthened and relationships restored. It’s such an encouragement to see the impact of a small group going out beyond the walls of the church into communities, as women take the truths they have learned and start sharing in their own spheres of influence.

Better Than a Red Phone 

Small group leader, if you’ve been wishing you had access to an emergency helpline, remember that you have the best source of wisdom and guidance available to you right now. Allow every feeling of inadequacy to drive you deeper into dependence on God, and don’t forget: He who calls you is faithful. 

Are you looking for additional resources to help you as a women’s ministry leader? We’re here to help! Visit to discover life-giving resources, sharpen your gifts, and thrive as a servant leader.

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's … read more …

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