Ask the Network – How do you encourage male participation in small groups?


Last month, Dafnette Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland asked: How do encourage male participation and retention in small groups? Do you plan fellowship outings, etc.? How can we equip male leaders to facilitate community among men?

We have an answer from Craig Mattes, the Director of Small Group Ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lisle, Illinois.

First question–“How do you encourage male participation and retention in small groups?” 

God has been truly blessing our men’s groups at Trinity.  We started with one group last year with about 4 guys.  Right from the start, we shared the vision of multiplying with the dream of having a men’s group on every day of the week.  This group grew to 18 guys by May and we multiplied the group in June.  Starting this October we will have groups meeting on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Each group meets at 6:35 am on our church’s campus and goes for little over an hour.  Each group follows the same curriculum (which is generally studies which correspond to our sermon series).  The early hour is a great time which does not conflict with family or work.  Because of occasional early meetings or travel, we permit men to attend another of the week’s meetings if they are unable to attend their regular group meeting.  This is offering much flexibility and keeping guys always in the loop and in synch with things. 

Second question–“Do you plan fellowship outings, etc.?” 

We are just at the beginning of planning outings.  We are currently doing a study called “Fit-2-Serve” ( and wrapping up the study by participating together in a local walk/run 5k.  We are also in the midst of planning a men’s breakfast in November (details here –  Otherwise, on a regular basis we do skip our normal weekly meeting on campus and hit the local Starbucks during the first meeting day of the month.  This is a time to enhance fellowship allowing us to get to know each other better with no agenda.   

Third question–“How can we equip male leaders to facilitate community among men?” 

At Trinity, we follow the same 5 purposes as Saddleback and organize our small group meeting agendas as such.  Along with this we assign a different “champion” to lead that particular component.  So we have one person who would lead our prayer time.  One person would lead the Bibly study time.  One person would lead the ice-breaker and so on.  This gives everyone in the group an opportunity to faciliate “something” on a smaller scale.  More and more practice on championing helps equip our men to one day lead a group.  Our studies (which can be found at make it pretty easy for anyone to faciliate a particular meeting component.

Thanks for your great answers, Craig!

Next months question is from Terri Parker of Largo, Maryland – How do you find coaches? Send your answers to this question, or your own question for future newsletters, to

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