Lead A Group


Ready to Lead a Group?

As a Connect Group leader, your mission is to connect people to God’s word and help them grow in their faith. Our Connect Group leaders help people who attend our church become active participants, first by pointing each person to Christ for the answers and by modeling what an active, growing Christian looks like; guiding them to a deeper commitment by engaging in our three strategies:

Worship corporately, together weekly

Connect with God’s word and God’s people

Contribute with our time, talents and finances


Lead A Group
July  1 – 29

Join A Group
August  5 – September  2

Groups Begin
September  9



Lead A Group
November  18 – December  16

Join A Group
January  6 – February  3

Groups Begin
February  10
Church-wide Series

Apply & Register

Both new and returning leaders fill out the Group Registration form each session for the group they wish to lead. 

First time Harborside group leaders – please provide a New Leader Application.

Read & Learn

We are excited for each leader to be prepared, to be encouraged and to be empowered.

Review the Leader Guide and Starter Pack in the tabs below.


Once you register your group, you’ll be added to the HarborLink communications for all Group Leaders. This is our only source of distributing important information to all Connect Group leaders.

To stay informed, do not unsubscribe from emails in your HarborLink account. 


Welcome Leaders | Our Core

Your Manual for Leading Groups at Harborside Christian Church

If you have any questions that are not covered in this guide, please contact Sarah Williams.

… welcome to leadership

You are stepping into a role that will not only help you grow in your walk with Christ, but will put you in a position to see the people you lead grow too. As a leader at Harborside Christian Church, you already know that our mission is to lead people to a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

As a Connect Group leader, your mission is to connect people to God’s word and help them grow in their faith. Our Connect Group leaders help people who attend our church become active participants, first by pointing each person to Christ for the answers and by modeling what an active, growing Christian looks like; guiding them to a deeper commitment by engaging in our three strategies:

WORSHIP corporately, together weekly
CONNECT with God’s word and God’s people
CONTRIBUTE with our time, talents and finances

As a Connect Group leader, you can do this by continuing to serve in any roles you may already have, by bringing your tithes and offerings to the church, and by using your leadership role to help raise up more leaders within our church.

One of the deepest, most fulfilling and spiritual things a believer can do is use their gifts to bring someone else closer to Christ. This Connect Group leader manual is designed to give you the resources you need to maximize the gifts and passions that God has already placed inside you. We’re praying that God will move mightily on your behalf as you begin your new role at Harborside Christian Church. It’s exciting to welcome you as a Connect Group Leader, and it is our privilege to give you the opportunity to help reach people for Christ.

… built on the truth of Scripture

Biblical Authority
Understanding the Bible as God’s Word establishes it as the ultimate authority and guide for our lives.  2 Timothy 3:16

Worship As a Way of Life
Loving God is a lifestyle that demands our praise (corporately and individually) and a pursuit of purity and obedience.  Luke 10:27

Continuous Spiritual Growth
Growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ means becoming more like Jesus.  Matthew 28:18-20

Excellence in our Environments
Doing everything to the best of our abilities honors God.  1 Corinthians 10:31

Outreach Locally and Globally
Sharing Christ with people locally and globally puts our faith into action.  Mark 12:31

Honor Code

…. leaders of Harborside Christian Church

We want to maintain a profound respect for each other and those around us, and have created this Honor Code to enable us all to preserve the standard in which God has called us to as followers of Him. This applies to all staff, Connect Group leaders, ministry leaders, team leaders, and everyone serving during services.

By providing an example in speech and action, we encourage others to grow in Christ and become servant leaders themselves. This is a way of life measured by the heart and commitment of each leader in the Harborside Christian Church family. We regard it as an essential part of our development, not as an imposition or restriction.

As leaders at Harborside Christian Church, we have a responsibility to develop and exhibit mature Christian behavior. We want to glorify Christ through our actions, and not be an embarrassment to Him. Our conduct should never be an embarrassment to Christ, but should exemplify the best qualities of a believer and servant leader.

We want to exemplify the highest moral commitment. Harborside Christian Church’s leaders are to pursue a disciplined life of reading God’s Word, abundant prayer life and faithful attendance in weekend worship services.

We should refrain from:

Ungodly speech – Proverbs 4:24
Drunkenness – Luke 21:34
Dishonest gain – Proverbs 11:3
Illegal drugs or misuse of prescription medication – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Social media discretion to the highest level – Ephesians 4:29
Pornography – Matthew 18:9
Sexual immorality – Ephesians 5:3
Behaviors which might dishonor Christ and cause others to stumble – 1 John 2:10

Please contact Tom Goodlet or Sarah Williams if you have any questions, need clarification of anything listed in this Honor Code or if you need help in any of these areas.

New Leaders | Checklist

Am I Ready?

You’re answering a spiritual calling to lead or you wouldn’t be reading this. God does not call upon those who are equipped, but He equips those He calls. In accordance with Ephesians 4:11-13, you are empowered with a God-given set of gifts, abilities and passions. And, we want to help you maximize those gifts as you come alive in your new role as a Connect Group leader. This role is an opportunity to advance your influence, increase your spiritual walk and to build your journey in His Name.

As a leader, you are committing to contribute to the lives of the people around you, but you need to make a greater commitment to continue your personal spiritual growth. If you’re pouring yourself out, without being poured into, you will burn out quickly.

Never stop seeking ways to grow in Christ. Attend worship and absorb the message. Prioritize your prayer life. Carve out time to be in God’s word. And if at all possible, participate in a Connect Group besides your own.

As a Connect Group leader, you may develop your leadership skills, but if you aren’t growing in your walk with Christ, your leadership will not be grounded in Christ and will potentially crumble over time.

[ ] Read, understand and follow Harborside’s mission, vision, strategy, core values, and our beliefs. All found here: HarborsideChurch.org/about-us
[ ] Read, understand and follow the Honor Code (see above).
[ ] Before leading a Connect Group, we ask that you become familiar with the structure of Harborside by serving somewhere and attending a Group.  HarborsideChurch.org/get-involved
[ ] You may lead one session without being a member of Harborside Christian Church. Before you lead a second time, you must attend NEXT and become a member.  HarborsideChurch.org/NEXT

As a Connect Group Leader, we expect you to represent Harborside Christian Church at a very high level. But we don’t expect you to have all the answers or know everything. Write down things you don’t know the answers to, consult your Coach or staff person. Bring the answer back the following week.


[ ] New Leader Application. Once approved, you don’t need to fill this form out again. HarborsideChurch.org/group-leaders
[ ] Membership. You do not need to be a Harborside Christian Church member to lead a group for one session. However, before you lead a second session, we ask that you partner with us by becoming a member of  Harborside Christian Church. HarborsideChurch.org/NEXT
[ ] Group Registration Form. New or returning leaders, fill this out each session that you want to lead.
[ ] Leader Profile Photos. Email a professional photo of yourself for your group profile. High resolution requested. Email to Sarah.
[ ] Your Group Members. Harborside Christian Church promotes Connect Groups. That is our part. Your part is to fill your group. Invite, announce and seek out people to join your group. Contact Sarah if you need support.
[ ] Lobby Promotions. Watch Leader Connection for time slots to serve a shift or two. Four Sundays before the online registration closes, we promote groups from the stage (Sunday Mornings) and in the lobby corner. This is a big deal. It creates energy and urgency to join a group!

Study Selection

… what should I lead?

One time per year, our church family participates in a study together. There is power when the whole church is unified in studying God’s word with God’s people. Although the study is the same for each Connect Group, each group reaches different spiritual maturity levels and seasons of life. The church wide studies are generally scheduled for the Winter sessions.

After you choose which group type you will lead (Men, Women, Parents, etc.), you may select a study that is right for you. Here are a few different resources to help you select they study:

RightNowMedia -Contact Sarah for to access this online library of 10,000+ studies.

Church LibraryHarborside.libib.com

Your Own Study – Did you author your own study? Submit your study for approval to Sarah 4 weeks before the Lead A Group campaign deadline.

Leader FAQ’s

Q: The study I want to lead has materials that are not available on Amazon. Why is that so important?
A: Amazon the most reliable and efficient resource for participant materials. Other vendors do not always provide timely or guaranteed delivery time, and shipping costs can be exorbitant. For this reason, if your study materials needed for participants are not available on Amazon, Harborside does not guarantee that the materials ordered by participants will be in by the time your group begins.

Q: What if someone can’t afford the materials or children’s programming costs?
A: Harborside has scholarship funds set aside. The person must complete a very short scholarship application online. It is confidential. Direct them to: HarborsideChurch.org/connect-resources


… your HarborLink

This is the final destination for groups. All registrations received through our website are manually transferred over to a HarborLink group. Again, this is not an automated process. You will not see people in your HarborLink account once they start registering. Watch your Leader Connection newsletter to find what date it’s available.  Harborside.infellowship.com/UserLogin

In HarborLink, you can:
– Add / Remove participants
– See your Roster
– Email your group
NOTE: Compose message outside of this HarborLink. Copy and paste into the email component of HarborLink. There is a timeout feature that will log you out while typing and you cannot recover the message.

REGISTRATION (for new users)
1. Go to the website and click REGISTER (top right corner)
2. Complete the registration form
4. Verify your account through the confirmation email Once you’ve been added into the system as a Connect Group Leader, you will be able to view your group under GROUPS YOU LEAD. This is a manual process by the Connect Ministry Team.

3. Use the right navigation box to choose ADD or INVITE
4. Follow the instructions to add or invite someone

3. Go to ROSTER tab
4. Click on the name of the person to remove
5. In the right column, in red, REMOVE FROM GROUP

1. From YOUR GROUPS, select the correct group. 2
. Click the ATTENDANCE tab
4. From the drop down menu, select ADD YOUR NEW EVENT
5. Enter the DATE of your meeting, then check off each attendee
6. If you don’t track attendance, please track the average number of participants

1. From YOUR GROUPS, select the correct group.
2. Use the right navigation box to choose SEND AN EMAIL
3. **It is best to compose your message outside of this software, then copy it into the message area.
4. You may select the whole group, or choose which people you’d like to email.

We do not require you to track attendance via HarborLink, but we will request a final average count at the end of each session. Tracking attendance is easy and can be delegated to a participant in your group. Ask Sarah for that person to be added in the system as a leader and they’ll have attendance tracking capabilities.

Children's Programming (Childcare)

… it’s more than childcare

Children’s Programming
During Connect Group sessions, your kids can grow spiritually as well.

INFANT THRU 5TH GRADE Age appropriate games and lessons are available from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. There is even a place for school aged children who have homework.

REGISTER: They must register each child with the appropriate link for the correlating evening. That is offered when the adult registers for their connect group. The links are also supplied to leaders via Leader Connection emails.

COST: There is a fee of $32 per child to participate. This fee covers up to 8 weeks of care and must be paid up front at the time of registration.

LEADERS: Connect Group Leaders are provided a promotion code that will cover the cost of childcare for the evening they are leading.

SCHOLARSHIPS: Scholarships are available for hardships: HarborsideChurch.org/connect-resources

CANCEL CARE: If a child is sick or will not be attending for any reason, please email Pam@harborsidechurch.org as soon as you can to let her know. We staff paid care workers according to how many are registered.

NOTE: No refunds are available for evenings missed as this is a subsidized fee that Harborside pays the remainder of.

MIDDLE SCHOOL Student Motion follows the same sessions as Connect Groups. Every Wednesday night for 8-weeks, your 6th-8th grader will be fully engaged with God and with God’s people. For more information about the Middle School program, visit: HarborsideChurch.org/students


Welcome | How To Use This Guide


Read through these next few tabs to guide you through your first connect group.


This is how we make a big church feel small.

This is how we make a direct impact on the lives of people around us, and directly impact our own walk with Christ.

This is how we help people grow in their faith and ours, too.

This is how to connect with God and God’s people. Each group looks different, but each is equipped to fulfill a unique purpose as we strive to make Jesus central to the world around us. Specifically, your Connect Group helps you to fulfill the calling God has placed on your heart to bring His love into the lives of those around you.

That’s what Connect Groups are all about — connecting with God and God’s people. You’re stepping into a very important role at Harborside Christian Church. This step will not only help you grow spiritually, but also put you in a front row seat to see Christ work in the lives of those in your Connect Group.

To be an excellent Connect Group leader, you don’t have to be perfect. You need to be willing and committed.

We ask you to remain committed to your Connect Group and model the elements of a healthy church body:
Worship, Connect, Contribute.

Before You Lead (1)


When Next attendees were asked what they noticed when they came to Harborside for the first time, there are typically three responses:

  • Welcome
  • Genuine smiles
  • Worship Connect Groups
  • Bible Based Sermons
  • Children’s Ministry
  • Atmosphere

Since you are an extension of Harborside, we want the atmosphere of your group to be a priority. Whether you are meeting in your home or on campus, the energy of your group directly impacts the way people engage or stay to themselves. Here are a few things we suggest for you to create an atmosphere that sets an optimal tone for a healthy group.

Coffee and/or Baked Goods. Filling your house or room with a pleasant fragrance makes people feel at home. On Campus – bring a tray of cookies, hot chocolate or popcorn. If they feel at home, they will feel more comfortable to connect.

Tidy Up. Spend a few minutes picking up loose items laying around will make a big impact. If you’re short on time, God gave us closets for a reason.

Seating. Having enough seats show you are prepared for your new group. It will make them feel valued.

Eliminate Distractions. Small distractions like the phone ringing, or cell phone noises helps keep the group engaged. Prayer and discussion time are the most important to control the environment as much as possible. On Campus – remind people to turn off their cell phones.

Bibles and Pens. Sure, they should bring their own. But having extras for people who were running late sends a message that you care they are there.

Name Tags. This may not be a necessary step, but it helps each person in the room connect with one another.

On Campus.  Make it personal. Bring something from home that personalizes your room. A throw pillow, candle or photo album.

Before You Lead (2)



Q. How much does a polar bear weigh?
A. Enough to break the ice!

Yep. It’s corny! But when it comes to your group, ice breaking goes a long way. Break through awkwardness, stress, inadequacies, shyness and all other distractions from growing in our faith. So, go ahead. Smash the ice.

And don’t forget – we should never take ourselves too seriously.


Two Truths & One Lie: This is a favorite. Everyone gets to share two things about them that are true and one thing that isn’t. Let the group decide which is the lie.

M&M’s: Pass a bowl of m&m’s around your group. Tell everyone to take as many as they want, but at least one. Ask them not to eat them yet, or to remember how many they took if the temptation is too great. Everyone must share one interesting fact about themselves for every m&m they grabbed.

Three Questions: These questions are simple yet they allow each person to share something about themselves.
Suggested questions:
Where were you born?
When did they start attending Harborside?
Favorite local restaurant.

One Question: This is a shorter version for larger groups.
What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Come up with your own. Make sure everyone knows how much time they have to reply.

Lead A Great Discussion


There are common threads that run through every Connect Group that sets it apart from any other gathering. Connect Groups have Christ-centered, meaningful and encouraging discussion.

You don’t need to have all the answers. You don’t need to do all the talking. As a matter in fact, you’ll help people grow in their faith most when you’re able to stop talking and facilitate a discussion among your group.


Laugh. Start with something easy like an ice-breaker game. There is nothing like simple fun to get the laughter started. Surface-level conversations are much like a toe in the pool. Not everyone can jump right in to a deep conversation with a room full of strangers.

Follow-up Questions. There is an art to listening to what your group participants are saying. Be alert and ready to ask follow-up questions for more details without probing. Most people won’t be ready to share everything right away, but your thoughtful questions give them permission to fully express their thoughts.

Allow for Silence. When a question is presented, give it some time to breathe. Silence might seem awkward, but giving time to gather thoughts and opinions requires silence. Their honest response might only come after a minute or two of silence.

Bring it Back. Conversations can stray off easily. And sometimes it happens before you know it. Use your instincts and listen to the Holy Spirit for discernment on when to reel it back to the topic.

End with Encouragement. Wherever your discussion leads, be real, but be encouraging. Offer an uplifting insight, thought, or action step that will give your group hope and inspiration that they need to bring them back next week. And always point them to Jesus and the scriptures.

The Power of Prayer


Prayer is what turns our cries for help into a supernatural transaction, where the Holy Spirit interprets our heart into God’s ear.

Connect Groups pray always. It’s a safe place for new believers to exercise their prayer voice. It’s an inspiring place for seasoned Christians to cover a group in prayer.


Write Down Prayer Requests and Praises. Either ask people directly, or a more discrete method is to hand out index cards that they will turn in that evening. Commit to pray for each request.

Pray Out Loud. Help people establish good prayer habits by praying out loud with your group. It can be outside of the comfort zone for many. But challenge people to take turns praying out loud in the beginning and/or end of each group.

Prayer Partners. Hand out index cards for prayer requests and praises. Let people swap cards, pray for one another during the week. Perhaps you could gently suggest a random email, card or text during the week to encourage the other person.

Surround. When an exceptionally difficult time hits a group participant, have your entire group surround one individual (or couple). Lay your hands on them. Pray for them. This can be very meaningful for the whole group and encouraging to the one going through this challenging time.

Group Prayer Messages. Use Facebook, email or a text thread to share prayer requests with each other at any point in the week. This open channel is an excellent way to remind participants to pray!

Recognize Group Challenges

How to handle “those people”. The following is in response to FAQ’s and learning over the years. Many people have asked how to direct certain situations. Here is our response.

Sometimes you get one or two people that answer every question. That’s great that they feel so comfortable to engage every time, but getting Silent Sally to speak and Windy William to keep his answer short and sweet is the real goal.

Everyone Gets a Turn. When questions are presented, go around the room and ask one person directly the first question. They can answer or pass. If they pass, go on the person sitting right next to them. If they answer, the next question goes to the person right next to that one.

THE TALKER: Set clear expectations. Remind your Connect Group to keep replies brief, Biblical and beneficial. The three B’s will help keep your Connect Group on track in many areas. If you need to, say that you need a “tweet” not a novel. Or use a timer to give each person 60 seconds. Keep it lighthearted. Be assertive. Don’t be afraid to remind your Connect Group to stay to the three B’s. You are in charge of setting the tone for the rest of the Group.

THE QUIET ONE: East them into discussion Be patient. Don’t jump straight to calling them out. Encourage them with small, short answer options first. Find out why they are quiet? Are they shy by nature? Or are they spiritually new and uncertain. This info will help you move forward. Connect with them individually. Whether it’s eye contact or giving them a preview of the lesson. Build a rapport and you’ll find you can call on them sooner than you expect.

TROUBLEMAKER: Don’t assume everything will work out over time without having to address troublemaker issues. Recognize and address conflict before it has a chance to affect the rest of your Group. Always lead with grace. Condemnation will always paint people into a corner of defensiveness. You’re not in this alone. Let us know how we can help you.

Build Healthy Relationships


Consistently meeting with other believers provides stability as people begin to connect and grow their faith. It also creates an accountability net that can be tightly knit.


Group Covenant. There are some fine lines and gray areas that each leader needs to be aware of. And we try to cover those issues in our covenant. Each person in the group should have their own copy to read, including the leader. This covenant helps set the tone and purpose for each Connect Group. Keep a copy of this available at each group meeting. You can openly refer to it if needed.

Click here for the PDF – HCC- Group Covenant

Celebrate Life Events. Wishing happy birthday or anniversary, recognizing promotions, baby announcements, new marriages, new homes and much more are cause for a party. Don’t miss an opportunity to recognize and celebrate life events.

Break the Norm. Get creative. Step outside the box and reveal the overall personality of your group. Every once in a while, it’s good to do something fun. Go out to dinner. Bowling. Serve as a group at one of our many outreach opportunities.

Group Prayer Messages. Use Facebook, email or a text thread to share prayer requests with each other at any point in the week. This open channel is an excellent way to remind participants to pray!

Care. You’re already a leader. So we know you care. A blindspot might be that you care too much. There is a ministry and care group page provided in your new leader kit for your reference if there is a participant that needs more than you’re able to provide. Don’t ignore when you’re in over your head.

Duty to Warn. If there are any of the following signs, you have a responsibility to report to someone on staff. You do not have to investigate. You have to refer.
[ ] If someone states that they have harmed themselves or someone else
[ ] If someone states that they are going to harm themselves or someone else
Contact: Tom Goodlet – 727-726-0202 ext. 430

CARE MINISTRY. Know when to refer someone to a specialized ministry. See the tab of ministries in your Leader Guide.

COUNSELING. Know when someone needs professional help beyond a Care Ministry.
Carol Burmood, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
On-site Counseling: LifeImpact Counseling
727-726-0202 x423

Multiply Your Leadership


Leaders don’t catch fish for others. They teach them to fish for themselves. Be alert and watch for participants that show potential of leading their own group.

Then, pray about the right way and time to approach them with the suggestion and be prepared to hold their hand through the process. Ask them to apprentice under you for the remainder of the group session with you.

As long as there are new leaders, Harborside can continue to reach more people and help them grow in their faith. Multiplying your leadership will multiply opportunities for others to connect with God and God’s people.


Fill in the Blanks: It’s always a WIN when you get someone else in the game. Delegate different tasks to participants. Taking ownership of a particular portion of your group gives each person a sense of pride in their group. You may need someone to take attendance, send out reminder emails, track prayer requests, organize the snack or meal list. You might even want someone in your group to plan outside-the-group activities.

Allow Someone Else to Lead: Take a step back and let someone else lead discussion from time to time. Their confidence will grow when they see you trust them with an important part of your Connect Group.

Set a Goal. Identify a co-leader, give them opportunities to grow under your leadership, then set a goal for them to start a Connect Group of their own. As you know, leaders tend to receive the lion’s share of blessings. Help them see the blessings. Guide them at God’s pace, not yours.

Time To Lead - Checklist


[ ] By now you should have read through the Leader’s Guide and Starter Kit. You’re receiving the Leader Connection Newsletter and have had all your questions answered.
[ ] Email or call each person. Make sure they have the location of your group and restate the time to show up. Also, let them know what to bring; Bible, notebook, study guide.
[ ] Spend time in prayer for your group and the study. Spend time preparing by going over the lesson, making notes, collecting supplies and in general, get organized.

[ ] Spend time in prayer that God would work through you. It’s all about HIM.
[ ] Name tags are very helpful.
[ ] Prepare a small snack (pretzels or cookies). And you may bring in bottles of water or coffee that you purchase or make off campus.
[ ] On campus groups — arrive at least 20 minutes early. Greet each person at the door. If your door sign or the lobby directory is incorrect, notify Jodi Costa via email afterwards.
[ ] Off campus groups — put a balloon on your mailbox and “walk in” sign on your door Off campus groups might decide to have potluck style meal first
[ ] Off campus — tidy up, or gather everything in a laundry basket and store in a closet.
[ ] Off campus — arrange chairs so everyone can see each other. In a circle is best.


HANG OUT (5-10 minutes)
Greet people as they arrive
Hand out participant materials, if applicable
Get name tags and check in, if you’re taking attendance Hand out index cards for each person to write prayer requests/praises on

Pick an ice breaker game and make sure each person introduces themselves

STUDY & DISCUSSION TIME (35-50 minutes)
Each study curriculum is different. Here is a sample of how you might proceed.
Watch the video
Go through the study questions together
Open discussion time

Find a good landing point that features the theme throughout that chapter
Collect prayer cards & take prayer requests/praises Announce homework activities or assignments

Going Deeper


PERSONAL GROWTH. We don’t want to just tell you how to lead your Connect Group. Our prayer is that we can provide you with the resources you need to live out God’s calling for your life.

NEXT. If you have led one session without being a member, we thank you for stepping up and going beyond the norm for an attender. Before leading a second time, we ask that you attend NEXT and become a member of Harborside Christian Church.

It’s your way to ultimately connect with Harborside Christian Church. Lock arms. Claim Harborside as your church family.

Encourage each person in your group to attend a NEXT class, if they haven’t already. They will learn the true heart of Harborside and this class is required before membership is accepted. HarborsideChurch.org/NEXT

MENTOR U. A mentoring relationship can be a powerful asset in your life. Perhaps you or someone in your Group is ready for a mentoring relationship. The MentorU program is an instrument to guide a mentoring relationship. HarborsideChurch.org/MENTORU

Have Questions?

Connect Group Room Assignments

Register for the Winter 2018 Leader Event

All leaders please plan to attend this event on January 14th at 1:00pm in room 226.