Episode 048: Small Group Leader Best Practices With Shannon Pijanowski


In this episode, I talk with one of the small group leaders from our church, Shannon Pijanowski. Shannon is a phenomenal SGL who leads a group of 2nd graders every Sunday morning, and a group of 11th graders every Sunday night. We walk through what she does on a week-to-week basis to connect with kids and students, and how she partners with their parents.

Shannon Pijanowski

Connect with Shannon on Facebook and Instagram

Email: Shannon.Pijanowski@communitycc.net

Community Christian Church

Links Mentioned in This Episode

Unexpected Accountability (blog post) – Shannon shares how serving as a SGL can stretch and grow one’s faith in unexpected ways

42 Ways to Keep Showing Up (blog post) – Practical ideas for leaders on how to connect with their few

139 Weeks (blog post) – Shannon reminds leaders to know how much time they have left with their kids or students, and to lead with the end in mind

Lead Small – Check out more posts and resources to help SGLs as they invest in their few

Pre-Sunday Best Practices:

  1. Read the curriculum before Sunday morning. Knowing it well helps you communicate better and frees you up to connect with kids and students.
  2. Adjust the curriculum according to your few, and integrate extra props, visuals, and interactive elements to engage them
  3. Circle up and touch base about with other leaders to share wins and stories, and what’s working/what’s not working
  4. Invest in yourself. Go to trainings, read blogs, and check out books. They don’t always have to be SGL-specific. Parenting blogs, resources for family ministry leaders, and others, can be really helpful.
  5. Set an example for other leaders
  6. Pray specifically for the time you will have with your kids or students each week

Sunday Best Practices

  1. Intentionally focus the time
  2. Compliment them
  3. Talk about their lives
  4. Make agreements and invite them into making those agreements
  5. Champion students owning their own faith, and encourage them to serve at church
  6. Look for opportunities to give your kids or students ownership/leadership
  7. Validate and encourage questions
  8. Show them your Bible

Post-Sunday Best Practices

  1. Pray for each kid or student every week, and pray for bigger things going on in their lives multiple times a week
  2. Pray for their families and connect with parents for prayer requests
  3. Compliment them in front of their parents
  4. Follow up with parents about what was talked about during group, especially if a big topic or question was broached
  5. Notice when they are not there and send a handwritten note
  6. Send birthday cards that personally celebrate them and call our their gifts
  7. Celebrate milestones with them (ex: baptism, driver’s license)
  8. Go to events and games outside of Sunday
  9. Follow up with other leaders

Shannon’s Elementary Small Group Agreements:

  1. Keep our hands, feet, and bodies to ourselves
  2. Look for ways to be helpful and encouraging
  3. Be kind with our words and actions
  4. Be respectful to our friends and leaders
  5. Have fun

Action Items

  1. If you’re a small group leader, choose one of the things Shannon talked about and try it this week
  2. If you are a ministry leader, share this episode with your volunteers and use it as a springboard for discussion
  3. Consider moving from a class or concert model to a small group model where individual leaders invest in their few every week

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Next Episode: Katie Edwards

In the next episode, I talk with Katie Edwards. Katie is the Junior High Pastor at Saddleback Church in California. She shares some great insight on how we can better understand middle school students and help them understand how much Jesus loves them.


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