blog dividing children into smaller groups
Missions Discipleship

When Bigger Isn’t Better: Dividing Children into Smaller Groups

When bigger isn’t always better, it may be time to consider making your missions discipleship group into two or more smaller groups.

Maybe things are going great with your children’s group. You’ve got more kids in your group than ever! Wonderful!

But that may be when concern creeps in. Your meeting space is almost at maximum capacity. You’re wondering if the kids are really understanding the message in such a large group.

You’ve started to think maybe it’s time to have more than one group, which leads you to the question: How do I know when is the right time to divide into smaller groups?

Consider the following factors for dividing groups:

Recruiting and Training Volunteers

Having enough trained adult volunteers is the first thing you should address when considering if it’s time to divide into smaller groups.

Start working as far in advance as possible to recruit volunteers. Ask those volunteers to be responsible for one part of the lesson or activity each week in your current group structure and help them ease into more responsibilities. Make sure they are supported, you are available to answer questions, and celebrate along the way!

As it becomes obvious your group is growing and it’s time for two separate groups, set up new leaders for success by planning together and keeping the lines of communication open.

A good rule to remember is always have at least two adults in each group.

For more information about volunteers and collaboration, check out these blogs: “Divide and Conquer: Using Volunteer Leaders in Children’s Missions Discipleship” and “5 Ways to Connect with Other Children’s Leaders.”

Dividing the Group

Another factor to consider is how to divide the group. Consider the ages and structure of your current group and the potential ways to split your group to make the best situation for all children.

Coed groups have two options:

    • Continue to be coed and divide kids by grade. Having an older and a younger group will allow leaders to teach to a smaller same-age grouping which can make it easier to lead discussions that are suitable for the age of the group and chose age-appropriate activities for children to engage in. (Note: Missions Journey: Kids Leader provides many options for leaders of older or younger kids and is easily customizable for your particular group.)
    • Divide into gender-specific groups. Gender-specific groups allow boys and girls to have experiences that allow them to more freely learn and grow. Boys can be encouraged by male mentors and girls can learn from female leaders.

Gender-specific groups can divide younger and older children into their own groups. Often, groups divide into first through third grades and fourth through sixth grades. Consider how many children are in each grade and what is manageable for your volunteers so everyone has a good experience.

Using Available Space Effectively

Church buildings only have so much space, but children’s missions discipleship leaders are creative people! If your church is just out of rooms and there’s nowhere for a new group to go, think about how to best share space with others. Consider keeping your group together for pledges and an opening activity, and then the individual groups rotate through stations set up in the existing area. Or, get creative by using room dividers, outside spaces, or even common spaces, like a fellowship hall area.

Regardless of how you divide your group, make sure your focus is always on providing the best environment for children to learn about their place in the Great Commission. When you do that, everyone wins!

Heather Keller is the Girls in Action, Children in Action, and Acteens consultant at WMU. Email your thoughts and questions to Heather at