Group Dynamics

Group Dynamics

A collection of resources that can help you better understand group dynamics

"Small Groups in Depth" collections are assembled by the editors of as a method of continuing education for people participating in small-group ministry. Each collection offers step-by-step training on a specific ministry skill or practice. Individuals may read through each resource on their own as a method of self improvement, or may customize the articles, discussion questions, assessments, and tools as a means of training others.

Overview | Questions | Tools | Evaluation | Next Steps


One of the most intimidating parts of leading a small group is managing group dynamics during discussions. These are the issues that require extra training. What do I do if someone won't stop talking? Or if someone doesn't share at all? What do I do if there's an overly negative member? Or one who uses the group as a personal therapy session?

Managing group dynamics is challenging, but it's something you can improve on. And these resources will help you.


Answer these questions to gauge your current comfort in managing group dynamics.

  • How equipped do you feel to work through challenging group dynamic issues?
  • What group dynamic issues have you faced in the last six months? How did you handle them?
  • What are the most common group dynamic issues in your group right now?
  • What group dynamic issues are hurting your ability to effectively lead your group?


The resources below provide expert advice and practical tips for overcoming issues in group dynamics. They have been divided into three stages to help you progress through the training at the pace you choose. Stage One contains articles giving an overview of group dynamics and how to prevent certain issues. Stage Two addresses specific group dynamic issues. And Stage Three highlights our premium downloadable content, which offers the most in-depth look at group dynamics.

Stage One

  1. Don't Let Your Small Group Get Too Big
    Ten reasons everyone suffers
    By Jay Firebaugh
  2. The Three Levels of Small-Group Problems
    Learn how to classify and resolve periods of "temporary chaos" in group life.
    By Heather Zempel
  3. Embracing Tangents
    How talking about aliens brought my small group together
    By Justin Marr
  4. Dealing with the Mess of Community
    Three things to keep in mind
    By Spence Shelton
  5. Avoiding Pitfalls in Group Dynamics
    Here are several practical and proactive steps you can take as a leader.
    By Reid Smith
  6. The Value of Relational Intelligence
    A new way for leaders to understand the people around them
    By Steve Saccone
  7. Three Ways to Kill a Small Group
    Avoid these sure-thing saboteurs.
    By Nicole Unice

Stage Two

  1. Show Them How
    Teach your group members how to listen well by modeling.
    By Diana Bennett
  2. Help! My Small Group Has Been Hijacked!
    Four common hijackers and ways to respond
    By Margaret Feinberg
  3. The Good, the Bad, and the Weird
    What to do when one or more of your group members is a little odd
    By Matt Graybill
  4. Managing Conversation Monopolizers
    Four tips to minimize the over talker
    By Terry Powell
  5. Dominant Group Members
    Two members answer the icebreaker, and two answer discussion questions; how can Darryl achieve balance?
  6. How to Quell a Dominating Personality in Your Group
    Practical tips from an experienced facilitator
    By Ron Wilbur
  7. Troubleshooting
    Solutions to common problems in small-group life
    By Les Parrott, Sam O'Neal, Joel Comiskey, and others
  8. Coping with People Who Beef, Bite, and Bellyache
    How to handle difficult relationships in your small group
    By Les Parrott
  9. Having a Good Cry
    Learn to deal honestly and openly with strong emotions in your small group.
    By Brooke B. Collison
  10. When Group Members Don't Show Up
    How to honor God (and your group) in a disappointing situation
    By Allen White
  11. 4 Challenges That Kill Community
    How to grapple with time, avoidance, strange people, and unrealistic expectations
    By Bill Search
  12. How to Pray for Another Group Member
    Practical advice for a sometimes sensitive subject
    By Randall Neighbour
  13. As a group leader, how should I handle superfluous prayer requests?
    By Bill Search
  14. Adding New People to Existing Groups
    What you need to know to be successful
    By Carolyn Taketa
  15. Our group members often bring visitors. What is the best way to incorporate new members without interrupting the group's intimacy and momentum?
    By Reid Smith
  16. The Plague of Gossip in the Body of Christ
    Match yourself with the Bible's standard when it comes to slander and gossip.
    By Jon Zens
  17. As a group leader, how do I handle someone who belittles other people's opinions during our small-group meetings?
    By Randall Neighbour
  18. Are You in an Unhealthy Relationship? (interactive assessment)
    By Les Parrott

Stage Three

Ministering to Difficult Group Members
Successfully leading a small group is a difficult task all by itself. But that task can become nearly impossible when your group contains one or more challenging personalities—people who talk too little or too much, people with emotional problems, people who promote false theology, and so on. This resource has been designed to provide small-group leaders with practical and thoughtful advice on ministering in these difficult situations.

Healthy Boundaries for Small Groups
All healthy relationships have healthy boundaries. Without them, relationships can go haywire quickly. Use this resource to learn how to establish boundaries with group members of the opposite sex, handle difficult group members, and talk with your group about meeting each other's needs in healthy ways.

Four Pack: Mastering Group Dynamics
This collection of training resources can help keep your group meetings running smoothly—and at a discount, too! Learn how to handle a multitude of group dynamics issues with these four resources: Becoming a Great Listener, Ministering to Difficult Group Members, Handling Conflict in Small Groups, and Improving Small-Group Accountability.


Have You Mastered Small-Group Dynamics?
See how well you handle tough situations in group life. Find an area that's lacking? Use the resources from Step 3 to teach yourself new ways to deal with group issues.

Are We Building Trust?
Building trust must be a priority for small groups. Use these seven assessments to determine where your group is at, the perspectives of group members, and how well you're helping to build trust in the group.

Next Steps

Dealing with Difficult People (4 session study)
Like it or not, most of us will have to interact with difficult people at one time or another. Use this activity-based study to help your group consider how to extend grace to others.

Getting Along with People Course (5 session study)
Relationships can be complicated, but we're meant to live life with others. Use this study with your group to learn how to communicate with others, say no when appropriate, and love by words and actions.

Lasting Friendships Between Women (6 session study)
Women usually recognize the need for friendships, but may have difficulty actually making them happen. This study looks at how we can make more and lasting friendships.

Movie Discussion Course: The Power of Relationships (6 session study)
Why are relationships important to us? What is God's role in relationships?
Answer these questions and more with this study. Enjoy six different movies together and discover what God wants our relationships to be.

Overview | Questions | Tools | Evaluation | Next Steps

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