How to Start Your Own Life Group for Kids!

Download this free Leader Workbook. It will guide you in brainstorming ideas and setting goals as you start your own Life Group for kids!

Kids today are walking away from their faith in droves. They spend years in Children’s Church and Youth Groups, only to walk away from their faith as soon as they become adults. Something is missing.

Kids need to spend more than just Sunday morning focusing on their faith. Children’s Church & Youth Groups are great, but they are just one tool in the toolbox of leading children into a life-long relationship with Jesus. Life Groups can be another tool.

How to Start a Life Group for Kids!

Everything You Need to Know About Starting a Life Group for Kids!

What are Life Groups?

People use lots of names for small groups: Bible study groups, d-groups (discipleship groups), growth groups, family groups, cell groups, etc. We call them Life Groups, but no matter what you call them they can be a wonderful way to give kids the opportunity to take an active role in their faith.

Why are Life Groups for Kids Important?

There comes a point in time when just hearing parents or ministers teach about God isn’t enough. Kids need to know they aren’t the only ones their age with a passion to live for Jesus. They need like-minded peers, in addition to their parents and ministers, to encourage them as they seek to go deeper in their relationship with God.

Why I Started My Life Group 

Several years ago, when my family was living overseas, I began noticing my daughter was struggling socially. She had "friends" in different groups, but none that she felt close with. We loved our Children's Church, but as an introvert big groups intimidated her and she had a hard time making meaningful connections. Plus, we didn't know many people that held the same faith and convictions that we did in our community, outside of church. 
The Life Group we started provided exactly what my daughter needed to help her come out of her shell, connect with other like-minded girls, and ultimately deepen her faith.

Our Life Group Format

The first year our Life Group met once a week for the 10-month school year (August-May) with the following format:
1. Opening prayer & sharing testimonies from the previous week
2. My co-leader did a fun ice breaker game
3. I taught the Bible lesson
4. Prayer requests & Group Prayer (this was done totally by the girls)
4. Fun activity like a craft or game 
5. Snack & Dismissal
**Plus a group Outing once a month.
The second year, we met bi-weekly following the same format as the first year except we did the group Outing every other month, instead of every month. I don't recommend the bi-weekly schedule in most cases, but I'll talk more about why later.

Why Our Life Group Worked

Over time I noticed the girls were developing a strong bond with each other— and with God! Not only did my daughter grow socially, but I saw her faith increase too. Because the girls shared testimonies, prayer requests, and prayed for each other every week, they were realizing that they were not alone on their journey with Jesus. They were beginning to take ownership of their faith and encouraging each other along the way. 
I got a lot of positive feedback from the parents as well. They too were noticing an increased confidence and faith within their daughters. 

Start your own Life Group for kids 

If you are feeling the call of God to start and lead a Life Group for the children in your life and community, I have compiled a list of questions and answers that I hope will help you on your journey.

Everything You Need to Know

1. How do I start a Life Group? Where should we meet?

When I started my Life Group, I did it under the umbrella of my church’s Small Group Program. Many churches have small groups for adults (ie. married couples, moms, men, etc.) that meet on a frequent basis. I reached out to the church leadership, who then instructed me to complete a training class that the church offered to small group leaders.
Alternatively, Life Groups can be formed under the umbrella of other Christian organizations too. Some ideas are:
*Homeschool Co-op: You can offer a co-op class that is geared towards Bible study and fun.
*After-School Program: Some schools have after-school groups that meet up regularly. Check with the administration to see if they will allow you to form a group for Bible study and fun.
*Youth Ministry Breakout Groups (this is under the church): After the main Youth Group session, you can group the kids by gender and age for a breakout small group session.
Churches and other Christian organizations might have specific protocol before they allow you to lead a group, such as completing a background check, training classes, becoming a member for a period of time, etc. Be sure to check with them about protocol and the best meeting location. 

2. Should the Life Group be mixed ages/genders?

I believe our group was more fruitful because it was just girls and stayed within a tight age range.
The reality is people, kids included, tend to feel more comfortable discussing certain issues and topics with other people who have similar life experiences as them. Often times girls feel more comfortable being transparent and speaking about sensitive issues with other girls, and the same is true for guys. 
I recommend keeping the groups gendered and within a certain age range.

3. Who should lead a Life Group for kids?

After I went through the Small Group Program at my church, they placed me under the leadership of the Children’s Ministry director. She connected me with another woman who volunteered to help me lead the group.
I recommend always having at least 2, unrelated adults that are the same gender as the group, serve as the group leaders. These 2 adults should be properly vetted through the church or Christian organization that you are forming your group under.

4. How many children should be in each Life Group?

When a Life Group is small, it can be less intimidating for kids and promote more discussion. Smaller groups make it easier for kids to connect and form true friendships. I recommend your Life Group be somewhere between 2-10 kids.

5. How frequently should we meet?

The first year our Life Group met once a week for the 10-month school year (August-May), with a break for summer. The next year we met bi-weekly or twice a month.
I found that when we met weekly, there was more excitement and commitment in the group. The bonds were stronger and it gave the girls something to look forward to each week. They also remembered what we had previously discussed, shared, and prayed for much better when we met weekly. The bi-weekly meeting schedule felt disjointed and less cohesive, which is why I don't recommend it in most cases. 
In my experience, it is better to meet weekly with scheduled breaks (ie. a week off for Thanksgiving, 2-3 weeks off for Christmas, a week off for fall and spring break, summer break, etc.) than to meet bi-weekly and risk adding a barrier to relationships forming. 
Decide your frequency based on what God is calling you to do, your schedule, your church or Christian organization’s schedule, and other factors that might affect your consistency.
Remember, children thrive on consistency so be careful not to bite off more than you can chew so that you can effectively show up for the children.  

6. How to find children/families to join your Life Group?

Because I was under the umbrella of my local church, the church promoted our Life Group during the morning announcements. They also let me set up a booth in the lobby with a sign-up sheet for parents whose children were interested in joining, and pass out invitations during Children's church. 
You could also announce your Life Group to a local Christian Facebook group or hang up flyers around your community.
Before we started the official meetings, I held an informational meeting for parents to meet me and my co-leader so they could learn what our Life Group was all about. During this meeting we talked with them about our mission and goals, we shared the curriculum we would be using, and we had sign-up sheets to give expectations, including volunteer and financial expectations.
It is important to make sure all of the families involved are on the same page about their Christian beliefs. Read your church or Christian organization's Statement of faith in the information meeting.

7. What are group Outings and how do they fit in?

Outings are “hangout sessions” that allow the children time to bond in a way that doesn't feel formal or forced. Outings are separate from the meetings and are usually hosted on a different day.
Our Outings consisted of fun activities like ice skating, laser tag, bowling, and picnic meetups in the park. 
Having an Outing on an occasional basis played a strong part in building authentic friendships because the Outings were unstructured and let the kids just hang out. They truly did help the kids to connect quicker— don’t neglect to do them! Check out some Outing ideas HERE.

8. What are the costs associated with starting a kid’s Life Group?

Running a Life Group will cost money, but it is a great way to keep your kids involved and active in an affordable way. In a time of high inflation, having kids participate in a Life Group can be much more affordable than some of the other expensive lessons, sports, and programs.
Some of the costs associated with running a group are:
  • The curriculum you will use check ours out HERE
  • Craft/activity supplies at each meeting
  • Snack at each meeting
  • Occasional Outings
  • Optional items for the kids (ie. Group T-shirts, end-of-year awards, Birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, prizes for behavior, Bibles, etc.)

9. How can I budget for a Life Group?

When I ran my Life Group, the parents and I made the funding a group effort. During the parent informational meeting, I asked the parents to sign up for a day that they would bring snacks and lead/provide the craft or game for the group to do. The parents also paid for any Outing their child attended.
Another thing we did was host a bake sale in the lobby of our church, which helped raise funds.
Every church, Christian organization, and Life Group will handle the financial aspects differently.
Here are some ideas to budget for Life Group costs:
  • Collect an annual amount from each group member.
  • Collect a monthly amount from each group member.
  • Raise money through fundraisers.
  • Rotate who provides snacks each meeting.
  • Rotate who provides the group activity materials at each meeting.
  • Seek a donation from your church or Christian organization.

10. How should liabilities, insurance, and security be handled?

I ran my Life Group through my church. In doing so, insurance, liabilities, and security was afforded to me through them. They also vetted me and my co-leader before we were able to serve children.
It is important for you to form your Life Group through a church or reputable Christian organization so that these types of things won't fall on you. Check with them to see how these safety measures will be handled for you and your group.

11. What curriculum should I use to properly disciple my group?

When I ran my Life Group, I did a Google search and found lots of Children’s Bible lessons, some were even free of cost. However, most of what I found was not written with discipleship or Life Groups in mind. Most were written for Children’s Church, Sunday School, or Youth Group where there are a lot more kids and less time for deep discussion.
I also wanted something that was geared towards the gender of my group and spoke to them about topics that their age group could identify with.
I finally found a curriculum that was expensive, but I thought it would be a good fit. Unfortunately, since I was living overseas at the time, my order got lost in the mail and didn’t come in until months later.
I had to improvise, and I ended up piecing something together on my own.  
Through that experience, I narrowed down criteria that qualified as great curriculum for the specific needs of a small Life Group for kids.
The curriculum should be:
  1. Bible-Centered
  2. Discussion-Based
  3. Life Application style (applies God's Word to their life)
  4. Include Pre-lesson Ice Breakers
  5. Include Group Activities for after the lesson
  6. Include take-home material for the kids to use in their personal time with God at home (because focusing on faith once or twice a week is not enough)
  7. Written for the age range of the group
  8. Written for the gender of the group, if possible
  9. Easily accessible and downloadable (not something you have to wait in the mail for)  
  10. Include a newsletter to keep parents informed about meeting topics
Fast forward years later, and I have now developed my own discipleship Life Group curriculum. Our Life Group Kits for kids are written with the specific needs of a Life Group in mind. You don’t have to be a professional teacher to use our kits because I designed them to be scripted and easy for anyone to use.
They aren’t “lecture/spectator” style, and they allow the kids to take an active role in participating through sharing their own ideas, experiences, and testimonies, while still being guided towards the truths in God’s Word. You can check out our Life Group Kits HERE.

Final Take-Away 

Starting your own Bible Study group or Life Group for kids is a high calling, but one that God leads many people to do. The scriptures say that the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few. So many kids are waiting on your obedience to the calling of God on your life.  
Before you start a group, pray and seek wise counsel! A lot goes into running a Life Group for kids in a safe and effective way. Forming your Life Group under the leadership of a church or Christian organization can provide you with the guidance and accountability needed to make your Life Group a success!   
Back to blog