How to

Small groups that reach out: Why it's better when you help others

Ultimate Roadtrip



It’s important for small group leaders to be committed to helping the people in their groups learn to care for and be involved in the lives of people outside the group — including people who don’t follow Jesus. Ideally, believers in a small group should receive, grow and give.

Turning the corner from getting to giving is often a difficult step. It’s far easier for people to stay in the comfort of the group and focus on themselves. However, a Christian cannot love God without caring about others. 

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8, New Living Translation)

A good small group will reflect the priority of loving and caring for people. Here are some ways you can help your group start reaching out. 


See the Spiritual Needs of People Around You 

Encouraging each other to be sensitive to the needs of others is a big part of our becoming like Jesus. Here are some ways for your group to do that:

  • Learn what the Bible says about peoples’ spiritual needs. Key passage to study: Romans 1:18-3:20.
  • As a group, develop compassion for others by studying God’s compassion for people who don’t know Him. Key passages to study: Matthew 9:35-38; Luke 15; Romans 5:6-8; Luke 13:31-34; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 19:1-9.
  • Expose your group to peoples’ needs. 
    • Use examples from everyday experiences such as articles, media, culture, news events and so on. 
    • Take spiritual surveys of people in your area. This will give the group a glimpse into the hearts and minds of other people. (Check out this article about creating a spiritual survey.)
    • Have someone who works with people in need in your community come to your group to share about the realities right next store.

Create Opportunities to Meet Peoples’ Needs

Regardless of where they are on their spiritual journeys, people can come together by giving to others.

Take into account where your group members are in their spiritual lives when you plan an activity to help them go from getting to giving. Start with a simple activity to help build a caring attitude about those outside of the group. 

  • Host a dinner as a group and invite friends from all different spiritual backgrounds.
  • Volunteer with a ministry or do a service project in your community.
  • Bring food or collect supplies or money for someone who’s discouraged or in need physically, financially or spiritually.
  • Make time to pray together for people in your lives who are in need.
  • Invite a friend who is curious or open to faith to an event where they can learn more about Christ.

Set the Example in Your Own Life 

Like many things in life, compassion is often caught from others. If reaching out to others is part of your life, your group members will learn from your example.

Take individuals in the group with you while you do ministry and they will often come back personally motivated to do the same kind of ministry. 

  • If you volunteer, take some group members with you and serve together. 
  • If you are going on a mission trip, challenge your group members to come along. 
  • If you frequently have spiritual conversations with a specific friend, invite a group member to join you next time you hang out. (Check with that friend first to see if it’s OK to bring someone else.) 

Remember That Knowing God Is the Best Gift

A small group can reach out to the people around them in many ways, but none is more important than reaching out with the good news of the gospel. The greatest need any person has is to be reconciled to God, so the best gift we can offer people is to introduce them to Christ. 

Equip your group members to share their faith. Take them with you to model how you share your faith. Teach them how to share the gospel using a simple tool like the Knowing God Personally booklet.

Sharing the good news of forgiveness through Jesus and serving others is essential to following Christ. A group that pursues loving God will naturally love and pursue people as a result. 

Next Steps: 

  • Reflect
    • What helped you turn the corner from getting to giving in your Christian life? 
    • How would you say you are presently doing in this area? 
    • How can you help your group start giving?
  • Act
    • Set aside time in your next small group meeting to talk about peoples’ spiritual needs. You could study one or more of the Bible passages mentioned earlier in the article. (Use this template to prepare the lesson.)
    • Taking into account the maturity level of your group and its purpose, what are some creative ways your group can reach out together? Choose a simple activity and invite your group members to participate. 
  • Pray 
    • For the physical and spiritual needs of your community.
    • For people in each group member’s life with physical and spiritual needs.

Learn More About Leading Small Groups: 

Adapted from Rick Hove, “The Ultimate Roadtrip: A Guide to Leading Small Groups” (Orlando: CruPress, 2010). Order at

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