Many cell groups, small groups and simple churches use the 4 W’s as a simple and adaptable framework for their meeting times. Learning to implement and practice these four steps has greatly improved my ability to facilitate small groups.

Here are the 4 W’s with some simple insight as to how they might be implemented.

Welcome –

After everyone has arrived and spent some time in informal conversation the leader can ask an “ice breaker” question. This question is usually a “fun” question where the answers give us some insight into the personal tastes, preferences and backgrounds of those present. It is a question that everyone should be able to answer no matter their age or level of commitment to Christ. The icebreaker helps build community and allows everyone to participate from the beginning.

Worship –

At this point the leader or other member leads the group in 10 to 15 minutes of worship. The worship section might include singing, reading scripture or some other type of activity that helps us focus on the Lordship of Christ. Prayer can be offered acknowledging the presence of Jesus with us as we meet.

Word –

I have found that a good way to transition from worship to a time of letting the Spirit of God speak to us through the Bible is with another question. I choose questions that can be answered from the life experiences of those gathered. It is a question that requires no Bible knowledge to answer. After one or two have responded to the question we read the selected scripture passage. Rather than telling the group what the scripture means, the leader facilitates discussion through a series of questions. We trust that the Spirit of God will speak to the hearts of the participants through interaction with God’s Word.

Work –

The purpose of this step is to turn our attention from ourselves to those who need the very Word we have been talking about. It is a time to ask questions about those we know who need this truth we have discovered. We discuss where we see God working in the lives of those in our circles of influence. We look for ways to join one another in taking God’s Good News to our friends and family. We close this step with prayer and then engage in laughter, fun and fellowship.

We benefited greatly by following these steps pretty closely when we first started our group. Now we are able to adjust what we do when we gather. The 4 W’s are not “hard and fast” steps that must be followed every time the group meets but they help keep us focused on Christ. They can be our guide but should not be our master.

From time to time I will post some thoughts on the individual “W’s.”

Have you ever used this structure for a group meeting?

Grace and Peace,


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Filed under: Simple/Organic Church Practices

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