How to Welcome Internationals into Your Small Group – Training for Internationals


Many internationals have never heard of a “small group,” and even if they might be interested in joining, they need an introduction to what it is and what to expect. They need to know what they are signing up for, and often need extra help connecting with a group. Here are some simple materials I created to introduce the idea to internationals here in Seattle.

Why have a training?

I have found that people do not really know what a small group is and do not understand what they were committing to, which leads to some misunderstandings. We want to set people (and small groups) up for success.

What format should we use?

A 1-hour group training that can also be done in person one-on-one if someone misses the training. The interactive format and “what if” scenarios are an attempt to make this interactive, relaxed, and fun. I suggest using a location that has a projector and tables.

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Who should facilitate?

Someone who can speak slowly and clearly, can use a PPT, can smile, and can lead the training in a timely manner. Ideally this person will be available for ongoing support/questions.


Part 1

Part 1: What is a small group and why join?

   Facilitator’s intro

  • Welcome group, mention format and end time, make sure people are seated at least 4 to a table, ideally with one church member or volunteer at each table.

   What is a small group?

  • A small group is a group of usually 5-10 adults.These groups may also be called community groups, home groups, or cell groups. There are ______ (number) groups in our church.

   Why join?

  • Grow and learn about Jesus. Study the bible, share our joy and struggles with each other, encourage each other, and pray.

  • Connect – know and be known. Life can be lonely, and we need “family,” whether that is our biological family or not.

  • Serve one another and others. Sometimes we serve each other by listening and caring, sometimes we serve in very practical ways, or we volunteer together.

   When, where, who?

  • Some are at the church, some are in homes.

  • Some meet in the evenings, some during the day, some on weekends.

  • Church members who are Christians lead the groups. Some are more teaching based, some are more sharing/discussion based.

  • Group members are just normal, broken people with struggles, pain, joy, and a story to share.


Part 2

Part 2: What is required?

   Personal requirements

  • Try the group once, then decide if you want to commit to stay in the group for _____ period of time.

  • If you join the group, come to at least 80% of the meetings. If you can’t come to one, tell your group before, because they care about you and will wonder where you are. You cannot “know others and be known” unless you come. You may miss important stories and learning.

  • Respect – be a good listener, especially when someone shares something personal or shares a struggle.

  • Be willing to be honest with others and share your own questions, struggles, and story.

  • Commit not to gossip. Explain that this also means not sharing people’s personal stories with others.


Part 3

Part 3: “What If…?”

  • Discuss attendees’ questions at their tables briefly. If people do not bring up the following, mention them:

  • What if I am not a Christian?

    • You do not need to be, this is a perfect place to learn more.

  • What if I do not like the group?

    • Try it once, then decide whether to join. If something happens later to cause you to dislike it, talk to ______ about it instead of just not coming.

  • What if I cannot understand others or they can’t understand my English?

    • This is a perfect place to learn.

  • What if I am nervous to go to someone’s home?

    • You can have a friend come with you the first time, or ask the leader or any staff people about things you may be nervous about.

  • What if I have never prayed before?

    • You can tell the group leader that when the group prays, you just want to listen.

  • What are YOUR “what ifs?”

    • Write them down and have the leader collect them and address. Or, talk about them at your table if there are enough facilitators.

   How to find a group

  • Lay out the practical steps for people—do they need to register? Contact someone? Wait to be contacted? Etc.


Heidi Ifland is on staff with China Outreach Ministries in Seattle, Washington. She graduated from Covenant College in 2005 and subsequently taught English at a university in China. 

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Further Reading

Chengdu: Opportunities and Challenges
Read More
Moses in the Wilderness: On the Run
Read More
Chengdu: Relaxed, Comfortable, Leisurely
Read More


With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.


  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church



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Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.


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Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.


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Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.


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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.


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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.


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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.


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Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.


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