Skip to content

Home / Resources / How To Use the Small Group Discussion Guide

How To Use the Small Group Discussion Guide

Written by Bob Martin on

Leaders and Coaches, Leadership

Using a Small Group Discussion Guide can be the backbone of your group time. It can provide clarity, guidance, and inspiration. And we recently re-outfitted our discussion guides based on your leader feedback! But how do you use the new Small Group Discussion Guide?

I’ve broken this article down to share how you might use all five sections of the new discussion guide:

1. Read the Passage

If the group is going to discuss a Bible passage, it makes sense to first read this passage together! Start your discussion time by reading through the verses at hand.

This can involve one person reading the whole passage while others have it open in front of them. Or it can be read by the whole group—taking turns going around the circle, each person reading two or three verses.

2. Observation

The Small Group Discussion Guide is based on three stages of Bible study:

  • Observation
  • Interpretation
  • Application

Observation involves asking “What do I see?” Group members may point out connecting words (like “therefore”) or repeated phrases (like “in Christ”). You can also make observations about the context of this passage:

  • What’s going on in the passages that surround these verses?
  • What was going on at this point in history that affected the original readers?

Obviously, those who have heard the sermon have a leg up. They’ve already heard one person who has spent hours with this passage share key observations about it! So, feel free to take a few moments to hear what stuck out from Sunday’s sermon about this text.

3. Interpretation

Interpretation means asking “What does this mean?

Those in the group should have questions about this passage—even if they are little ones (Ex. “What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit ‘of life’ from Romans 8:2?”). They should raise these questions now.

But it’s also fun (and helpful!) to make them answer their own questions first! They give the first stab, and then others can weigh in.

Inevitably, there will be some questions that are helpful and align with the passage; there will be others that miss the point. As a leader, allow people space to explore, but don’t let the group go too far into an unhelpful topic.

4. Application

Applications means asking the question “So what?” In other words, you’re considering: “What does this passage mean for me and how am I supposed to respond?”

Since you’ve spent time answering what the passage means, now you are able to answer what it means to me!

Applications can vary widely since there are so many different life situations going on in your group. For example:

  • For Frank, the main point of the sermon pushes him to change the way he thinks about God this week
  • To Sharon, one particular phrase in the passage stood out, convicting her that she needs to ask her spouse’s forgiveness
  • In Will’s heart, the overall discussion has caused him to realize that he needs to change a practical habit

Applications may be about our thoughts, our attitudes, our habits, our decisions, or our relationships—both with God and others. But we never want to walk away from time discussing God’s Word without taking away something to help us live differently.

And don’t forget that only the gospel of God’s unchanging love, forgiveness, and power make it possible for this change. We’re not self-improvement people; we’re gospel people.



5. Further Resources

As a leader, you may want to dive deeper into whichever section of Scripture our church is currently going through. A practical commentary is helpful for that (Crossway’s Preaching the Word series is one I highly recommend.

If you want a more short-term resource (i.e. something focused on the specific passage for that week’s passage or the sermon topic)—online resources like blog articles may be helpful.

Don’t forget the kids in the group! They can benefit from discussing the sermon series passages through using the Children’s Ministries family devotional (also available at the Children’s webpage or in the Children’s Ministries newsletter). Kids can go through this with their family or with a babysitter who is watching them during Small Group gatherings.

Finding the Small Group Discussion Guide

Where do you find the Small Group Discussion Guide?

  • It will be linked on the sermon page of the current series
  • The link to the newest discussion guide is emailed out weekly on the College Park Church all church newsletter (sign up) as well as the Small Group leader newsletter (contact us to sign up)
  • After a series has finished, the discussion guide is posted on the “Guides” section of the church’s resource website,

If you have questions or need the newest edition, contact the Small Groups Team.

Bob Martin

Bob first joined staff at College Park as a Pastoral Resident in 2011 and has served in several important roles since that time. He now serves as the Pastor of Membership & Connection. Bob is passionate about seeing men and women enter into community with others to find hope together. He enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and friends.

Share Page

Contact Form

Take a step in your faith journey by connecting with one another this summer! Check out ways to engage on a Sunday, around a table, and in a group.