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Tag Archives | leaders

Who knows best?

The other day, my teens and I attended a workshop during which we had the opportunity to practice contemplative prayer. After doing so, the facilitator asked people to share their experience with 2-3 people near them.

My teens’ body language suggested it’d be good to share our experience as a table, with a larger group than the facilitator originally suggested.

When the facilitator saw us doing this, he walked over and stopped us, saying, “I said to share in groups of 2 or at most 3. If you don’t, a couple of you will talk the whole time.”

Though I think I hid my reaction from my students, I was horrified.

Who did this stranger think he was to tell me – the person who works with these teens on a daily basis – how best to minister to them?

Who was he to suggest that I – a veteran youth worker – couldn’t facilitate a discussion that would allow everyone to participate?

Despite my frustration, I recognized the inappropriateness of arguing with the facilitator, so we complied with his instructions. Though the adults in this workshop talked in their pairs for the next 10 minutes, my teens quickly ran out of things to say and sat in awkward silence.

As I reflected on this later in the day, it occurred to me, how often do I do the same thing to my small group leaders?

How often do I assume I know how to better minister to kids than the lay leaders who work with them on a weekly basis?

How often do I act as though my well-trained leaders can’t actually facilitate a good discussion?

No doubt, more than I’d like to think.

Having realized this, I’m determined to take the following steps, steps I hope will give adult leaders the respect and authority they deserve.

1. I will consistently remind leaders that because they know their groups well, they have the freedom to adjust small group materials in order to best meet the needs of their particular group. I will remind them it’s OK not to ask every question; That the quality of their discussion is far more important than the quantity of questions asked. Then, when I see leaders making adjustments, I’ll trust their judgment rather than freak out.

2. When I sit in on a small group discussion, I’ll do so as a participant, intentionally behaving in a way that gives and shows respect for the small group leader’s authority.

3. I will give away my title, reminding my leaders they are youth pastors too.

4. Since my leaders are youth pastors, when a situation arises that involves one of their kids, I’ll involve them.

5. I will regularly ask leaders how I can help them better minister to their kids. Then I’ll do my best to give leaders what they need in order to flourish.

What else do you do to give your adult leaders the respect and authority they deserve?

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Things To Keep In Mind Before You Confront Someone

As much fun as ministry is and can be there always is a time in which you need to confront a student or leader with life choices they are making or they are being disruptive in service. Let’s be honest, no one loves confrontation. It can be very hard at times. Even though it’s tough it is important in ministry to handle conflict with students and leaders well. A confrontation handled well can help launch them into the next level of personal growth in life and with Jesus. A confrontation handled badly can cause way more damage to the situation than their was before you entered into the situation. Hence, the importance of handling conflict well.

So what do you do?

  • Pray before- Seems obvious but if I do forget to one thing the most, it’s this one. It’s so easily overlooked but it really is the most important. There is nothing better than going into what can be a very difficult conversation than going in knowing that you went before the King and gave Him the situation before you even began with the student or leader. I pray that He gives me the correct words to say in ministering to the student and discernment when counseling them.
  • Ask - Ask yourself, “Does this need to be even brought up? Does it need to be handled right now? Am I thinking about this too much? Does it really matter? Does something even need to be said?” Going through some of these things can help you process what is about to happen.
  • Be up front- There is no use to dancing around the situation. I would always try to “warm them up” before actually getting to the meat. As soon as they sit down, I lovingly let them know that I want to talk about something that can be hard to hear but it important because I love and care for them, then I go into it.
  • Be on their side- Confrontation is exactly that when two people are going head to head. If you can’t confront someone with love and with a positive end in mind for them (redemption, restoration, growth), you shouldn’t be confronting them in the first place.  Remind them of this as well—that you’re on their side—and that you want to see this issue resolved in a way that everyone learns and grows through it.
  • Go in private-  Go in private according to Matthew 18:15. A one-on-one conversation. If you cannot overlook the issue then attempt to resolve the conflict or misunderstanding by applying God’s principle of going one on one whenever possible. There is no benefit in calling them out in front of their friends after service or small group about something they have been doing (Finish reading Matthew 18 if one-on-one doesn’t get through).
  • When it gets heated, slow down -When things get heated it can be really easy  to get revved up with them. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and just go for it.  Slow down, get collected. Take a few breaths and think about what happened. The art of holding your tongue is hard and the art of confrontation with a calm demeanor is harder. Not going off and slowing yourself down before speaking will always be beneficial.
  • Point Them To Jesus- Overall, you are to point them to Jesus. As ministers that is what we are supposed to do. We need to use these times of confrontation as teaching and learning for our students and leaders and for us as pastors as well. If we can leave the conversation with the students leaning on Jesus more, than it is a success.

What else would you put? Add to the list?

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The Qualities of a Great Leader

Thought this new article from Forbes was totally worth the read for youth workers. What makes a great leader? Thanks to Shane for pointing it out! Good stuff in the whole article, here’s a clip:

Ability to Delegate
Finessing your brand vision is essential to creating an organized and efficient business, but if you don’t learn to trust your team with that vision, you might never progress to the next stage. Its important to remember that trusting your team with your idea is a sign of strength, not weakness. Delegating tasks to the appropriate departments is one of the most important skills you can develop as your business grows. The emails and tasks will begin to pile up, and the more you stretch yourself thin, the lower the quality of your work will become, and the less you will produce.

The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of your team, and capitalizing on them. Find out what each team member enjoys doing most. Chances are if they find that task more enjoyable, they will likely put more thought and effort behind it. This will not only prove to your team that you trust and believe in them, but will also free up your time to focus on the higher level tasks, that should not be delegated. It’s a fine balance, but one that will have a huge impact on the productivity of your business.

Communication
Knowing what you want accomplished may seem clear in your head, but if you try to explain it to someone else and are met with a blank expression, you know there is a problem. If this has been your experience, then you may want to focus on honing your communication skills. Being able to clearly and succinctly describe what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t relate your vision to your team, you won’t all be working towards the same goal.

Training new members and creating a productive work environment all depend on healthy lines of communication. Whether that stems from an open door policy to your office, or making it a point to talk to your staff on a daily basis, making yourself available to discuss interoffice issues is vital. Your team will learn to trust and depend on you, and will be less hesitant to work harder.

JG

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Small Groups Are Broken

It’s true.

Small groups are broken. They do not work like they should because they are lead by broken people and are occupied by broken people. It’s messy. One of the biggest traps I see leaders make is what I like to call the “White Knight Syndrome.” The White Knight Syndrome is where we think our student’s spiritual health is completely up to me as the leader and it’s my job to save them.

The fact: When students come into small groups, they are broken. When we lead them in small groups, we are broken.

The realization: As leaders, since we are the broken leading the broken, there is nothing we can do to change our students. This might be hard to grasp or maybe you don’t want to grasp it but it’s true. We can do nothing to change them.

The great part: Even though we can’t change them, we know we worship a God who has the power to change our students as we lead. We know we have a God who has the power to change our hearts as we lead and we has the power to begin to put all the pieces together through Jesus. You may not be able to change them and heal them, but Jesus can.

What we as leaders can do: Even though we can’t do anything to change them, we can still be there for them in their brokenness. Because we are broken, and we know what they feel like, we can walk them through it and point them to Jesus who has the power to mend the broken.

Small groups are broken because they are supposed to be designed for where broken people can go and be real with their brokenness and talk, learn, pray, worship a God who has the power to change them.

Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

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5 Assumptions Small Group Leaders Need To Stop Making

Everyone assumes certain things at times. As a small group leader and ministry leader I also fall into the trap of assuming some things and it usually ends up hurting me more than helping me. I want to share 5 assumptions small group leaders need to stop making about leading their group and I know we will see some healthier, happier, growing groups.

I can wing it- I know we are all busy but when it comes to prepping for your small group session we owe it to our students (and ourselves) to come in with something prepared. I’m sure all of us are all awesome and gifted preachers and teachers but if we assume we can just wing it all of the time, we are really missing out. All meetings should at least have some sort of outline, plan, or at least some thought going into before. I think as a must, just to spend a few minutes during the day in prayer for the group time. Each meeting can be powerful and God can move but we can’t always go in blindfolded hoping something will happen. Curriculum is your friend.

My students will know what’s going on - Let’s be honest, they don’t. That’s why you have to send them a text every afternoon of the day you are meeting for group because if you didn’t remind them they wouldn’t come. We can’t assume students know about group info, meetings, events and everything that is going on. I have come to find out that students have become busier than I am… it’s weird. Over communicate, trust me, you’re not bugging because they need to be reminded.

Their parents will know what’s going on - Let’s be honest, they don’t. We can’t assume that everything we tell our students in group make it home to their parents. That’s why most event sign ups happen the last week before the deadline. Over, over communicate with your parents in the group. I send out a monthly email to all the parents in my group to let them know what’s going on in our group, in our ministry and any events that are coming up. I know they really appreciate it and they never complain to know what’s going on.

Students don’t want to hang out with me outside of group - You would be surprised about how much your students do want to hang out with their leaders more. They assume since you are the adult you don’t have time. Since they are a student we assume they do not want to. Let’s stop making this assumption and just throw it out there. See if they want to get food with you not on a group or service night. See if they want to see a movie. Ask if they want to run errands with you. You will be surprised by how much they will want to keep you company.

I don’t need to be in a small group - I go to church and I lead a small group, I do not need to be in one myself. I’m too busy. Big “no-no”. Leaders need to lead by example. Students will copy our actions, they will do what we do. It’s important for us to be in a group ourselves that we are not leading, where we are being poured into and being in the same community we strongly encourage them to be a part of as well.

What are some other deadly assumptions we make?

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You Reproduce You

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds (Genesis 1:24)

Seems like a pretty simple verse right? Right. There is so much truth this simple verse. Humans produce humans. Cats produce cats. Dogs produce dogs. So on and so on. Right? Right.

What you are as a leader, you will produce the same types of leaders in your group. The fact of the matter is we will only be able to produce what we are and many times we really want to produce what we like. The only problem with this is if we are seeing something lacking within the group we as leaders want to see growth in, those are usually exactly the things we as leaders need to personally grow in as well. If you are a high energy leader, you are going to produce high energy leaders. If you feel your group is lacking in prayer, you yourself are probably lacking in prayer.

It’s not a fun thing to realize when it sneaks up on you. Just the other night I was thinking about how uncompassionate my group is when it comes to some people sharing about real struggles in their lives. I just couldn’t get over how they could just breeze over something so huge happening in one of their friends’ lives. Then that night at dinner, my wife and I were out with some friends and they dropped a bomb on us and my first thought after they told us was, “Man, I wish our food would hurry up, I’m starving.” I swear the Holy Spirit whispered to me saying, “I wonder where your guys get it from.” Dang it.

My advice? Take some time this week and be in prayer for God to reveal to you where you are lacking in your own life as a leader so you can be able to produce leaders the way you really want to produce leaders. Start to be the leader you want to see in those you lead.

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Being A Relationship Broker

There are so many things I love about youth ministry, and one of my favourites has to be the incredible network of youth workers, friends and congregants that are afforded to people who do ministry in the local Church. The diversity of people, vocations, passions and connections is immense and the opportunity for us is to be brokers of those relationships

A few days ago I was able to connect with a friend of mine who was in town for a short time. He is a successful and well known Christian artist, incredibly humble and someone who has so much wisdom to offer. In the same week, one of our volunteer worship leaders named Amber came and talked to me about a growing sense that God was calling her to more seriously pursue music ministry. So I did what I thought I should do, set a up a coffee meeting for the three of us so that Amber could connect with him and ask questions that I would never know the answers to. The meeting was a huge success and here are 4 reasons you should be setting these meetings up too.

1 – You know a lot of people: Being a pastor in a church means that you know more people than most, and usually in a more than surface level way. You know people’s stories, their giftings and vocation and now its time to use that knowledge. You have more connections than a cross country Greyhound bus trip and it is high time to leverage them. It would be easy to hoard those connections or forget that there are people you know who want to serve and don’t know how, and others that need help and don’t know where to get it from.

2 – It’s generous and facilitates generosity: They say it’s not what you know, its who you know and those relationships are valuable. Relationships are an extremely valuable resource that each of us possess, but many don’t realize the impact that being generous with those relationships can have. Recently a family from our ministry had a flood in their kitchen. With no insurance and facing a $20,000 repair bill in early December they didn’t know what to do. I called a contractor from the Church told him about the situation and he stepped in and took care of the rest and a few weeks later they have a brand-new kitchen and thanks to his relationships with vendors that he leveraged, the family was handed an invoice for zero dollars just before Christmas. I did almost no work other than connecting two people that otherwise would have not known one another. Lets stop hoarding our connections!

3 – It could change someone’s life: Connecting two people who don’t know one another can be risky. They might hit it off, it might be oil and water or just be plain awkward, but with all the risks, the potential gain still outweighs possible negative outcomes. As I sat and watched this meeting between Amber and my friend I was struck by the fact that this meeting might be a life changing moment. In a 40 minutes meeting Starbucks, she was able to flush out this calling with someone else who was called to worship, she was encouraged by someone that had no obvious obligation to do so and was invited to apply to study in London for a year to pursue a further exploration of a call to ministry. It took only a few minutes to organize, but those minutes could end up having a lifetime of impact.

4 – It’s a blessing to all: For a student getting the opportunity to meet someone they respect with a ton of experience and credibility in their field is a huge gift, the same goes for person meeting them. Having your skills and wisdom valued will always pump your tires up and having the opportunity to bring an experienced balanced perspective is something I value each and every time. For the person organizing that meeting, the experience is equally fulfilling as you see this exchange of curiosity and knowledge.

There is something beautiful about the inter generational nature of the Church, as a people from all walks and stages of life come together. Each of these people has a story, a skill set and something to offer someone else and it is our job as ministers to bring people together and broker the exchange of knowledge and wisdom that one generation could inspire or serve the next.

-Geoff @geoffcstewart

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Setting The Thermostat In Ministry

Now I know some people will laugh at this but whatever, judge me if you want. It dropped down to the 50′s in temperature and it was “freezing” so my wife and I set the thermostat (I live in Orange County, CA people. I’m used to going to the beach in February). Judge not, because it gave me this great thought about why I love thermostats. They can be set at a certain, consistent temperature.

In ministry there will be hot streaks where ministry is just on fire, it’s hot. Students are inviting friends, all of your sermons are killing it, all of your events are awesome, and you are even coming in under budget. Then there will be seasons in which things feel cold. Your numbers are down, all your events bombed and it feel like God is not even there in your group. Temperatures in ministry will always go up and down, but something I have noticed in ministry is that you can set a certain, constant temperature in ministry. There are some things you need in your ministry to make sure you set your tone and temperature so during the hot days you will be able to handle the heat and during the cold days you will be able to survive and get through them.

Thermostat setters in ministry are:

The leader’s quiet time - Something that will set the temperature of any ministry is the leader’s walk with the Lord. Chances are if the leader is not consistent and intimate in their own walk with the Lord their ministry is suffering in some similar way. When a leader is empty you can see it in how they interact with students, how they teach and preach and how they care of others in ministry. they could get through it without, but it’s a noticeable difference when they are feeding themselves. As the leader you set the tone of your ministry.

Consistent caring adult leaders - When there are caring adults in your ministry who are there loving on students when they walk in the door there is a set temperature of ministry there. When a student knows that when they walk into the room and they have multiple adults who care for them and want to pour into their lives, it’s a game changer. I add “consistent” in there because one of the best gifts we can give a student is time. Consistent time is huge for a student whose life is constantly changing. That is a set temperature in ministry.

1- on-1 time with students - There is something that is so special about a good 1-on-1 time with a student. Whether it is taking a student out for lunch, on your errands, or talking to students between services, that time to them is invaluable. Making time to meet with students as the pastor, or making it a high value for leaders to be doing the same thing (so you can cover more students and make sure all students can get this time) is thermostat type of ministry. If you can have a pulse on the lives of the majority of your students because you know what is going on in their lives, it will benefit every aspect of ministry. Your students will feel loved and cared for, you will know what students are going through and you can form teaching series and curriculum around those things and much more.

These things are some things that I think need to be set in place in order for a ministry to be a “thermostat” ministry. Making sure there is a constant, set temperature of ministry is a great thing to have when we all know too well how there are cold spots and heat waves in ministry.

What are some other thermostat settings in ministry you feel would set the tone?

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The Real Purpose of Small Groups

I don’t think it comes as a surprise, but I think small groups are great. There are a ton of reasons why students join a small group. It could be just the thing to do at your church. It could be because their parents are making them. It could be because a leader a student has a relationship with invited them into the group. It could be because a student has seen the life change it causes and invited a friend to it. It could be because a student wanted a community around them so they just joined one.

Either one of these reasons are great. I approve. I want all students in a group. But I think there is one reason we as leaders should have a purpose for small group ministry.

Last weekend I was talking to a student about her small group and she hit the main reason right on the head. She said, “I joined the group at first to have community, but as I kept going I realized I really joined because of my need to repent of my sins and learn how to follow Jesus fully.”

BOOM! I was so proud in the moment that this student realized this on her own. What she meant was that she decided to let God control her life and she should stop running it. Her joining the group was the first step to letting that happen. She knew that the community around her would help her understand the studies, she knew the group would pray for her, encourage her, help keep her accountable.

But the main thing was to repent. And this will be an ongoing process.

Healthy small groups of God’s people are instrumental in bringing life change . . . repentance . . . transformation.

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There Is Nothing Small About Small Groups

Small groups are exactly that, small. They make the bigger group that meets in a corporate setting feel like a much small place. Everyone one loves the big setting, the fun, the music, the energy, the games and the messages etc. Small groups seem to bring it down to a much more relatable setting, which is the point. Even though small groups are exactly that, there is really nothing small about the impact they have on students. If a small group is lead well, a small group can have an anything but small impact on the students who are in it.

Some areas in which small groups are not so small are that students are:

Growing in faith- Groups are talking about and owning their faith. It is our goal with the curriculum we provide for our students, they will become a full fledged follower of Jesus on their own standing by the time they leave high school. Students from the moment they enter a small group begin to grow in their faith which can have a huge impact in their live and the lives around them.

Growing in community - Small group community is one of my favorite things. I still talk with guys I was in a high school small group with. The group I am in now I know will be producing a growing faith and life long friendships. Students, because they are meeting every week for 4 years (ideally), are going to know each other really well. They have the chance to be real, open, and honest with each other and the relationships that come from small groups is HUGE.

Growing in discipline - The fact they are meeting every week shows discipline. the fact they are committing to study is HUGE. They are making a decision to pray for each other every week is HUGE They are reading God’s living Word every week, which is HUGE. Being a disciple of Jesus has is in the word “discipline” and groups are teaching it every time they meet. This is HUGE for high school students to learn.

Changing for eternity - I do not know what else could be as huge as this. There is nothing small about this. Year after year we see students fully dedicating their lives to Jesus because they experience Him in group as they are studying Him and then they begin to express it in their lives though service and then other’s eternities are changed because of them. There is nothing small about it.

Small groups may be the name of it, but there is NOTHING small about the impact they make in student’s lives.

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Why Training Small Group Leaders Is Vital

If you want to influence more students in your ministry you need to influence those who spend time with them. Training leaders is one of the most important aspects in order to make our small groups successful. There is no way I can effectively minister in a small group setting the 15 guys in my group right now if I need to minister to the rest of the group in a small group setting as well. How do you influence more students? Influence their leaders who spend time with them.

We believe so much in making sure all of our leaders are screened and trained through HSM because we know that without them there is no way our students would grow in the ways they are growing. Training our leaders throughout the year is key to success in small groups. Here are some reasons why training leaders are so important:

Back ground and screening process.

  • All of our leaders go through a back ground check and interview process. We want to make sure that we do not get any creepers around our students and we always want to make sure they have a heart for students before they even get a chance to lead.

Leader handbook

  • We give out a leader handbook with all the answers to any possible questions a leader would need to know. What does a typical night of small group look like? What does an email to parents look like? What are some good ice-breakers? And many more. All these can be found in our handbook so they can find out certain things for themselves before they let us know.

What to do if someone is hurting themselves or been abused.

  • We train our leaders every year on what are some things they can possibly deal with when it comes to cutting, eating disorders and suicide. I cannot tell you enough how important it is for your leaders and your ministry to be able to handle something like this correctly. Do your leaders know how to deal with it?

How to lead a small group discussion.

  • For the most part, most new leaders think they need to talk the entire time. That is not the case. We train our leaders how to lead a group and how to facilitate a discussion rather than dominate it. We want groups to be a place where students are doing the talking and leaders are there to help move it along or clarify certain things.

Resource them.

  • Not only do we want to train them but we want to give them resources so they can lead, teach, counsel, advise, etc better. We want to make sure we provide our leaders with material that will not only help their students grow as Christ followers, but it will help our leaders do the same. If our leaders are growing we know our students are growing. Whether you have a budget to buy books or if you do not and you need to get free things you find on the internet, showing your leaders you care for them and want to help them grow means a ton to them.

Why they are so important.

  • We do training to let our leaders now we could not do what we do with out them. We want to let them know they are so valued by us so we will feed them, train them and sped time with them. Because we are taking time for our ministry to train them it gives them a sense of importance and belonging and they will feel valued and will be willing to do anything for the cause of seeing their students grow.

If you train your leaders effectively, you will be able to minister to your students more abundantly.

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The Magnetic Leader

Have you ever heard the phrase, “that person has a magnetic personality?” I think there’s a LOT to process in that sentiment – but I think we can all admit that most effective leaders are powerfully magnetic people! Think about it – in one sense you are pulling people toward you or pushing people away from you all of the time. Beyond charisma, what specific traits are really magnetic? Here are a few of the things that I think really stand out:

Positive // Negative Attitude
Both positive and negative attitudes are incredibly magnetic! A positive attitude helps others believe, it helps your followers see clearly in the darkness, it gives people hope. One of the greatest gifts you can give your team is a positive attitude. There are already enough negative people out there (probably some serving on your elder board).  You probably know a specific terribly bitter person in your church: they’ve just been hurt one too many times so they feel the need to attack. They kill good ideas. They do their best to infect others with their pessimism. Both sides of attitude are magnetic.

Clear // Unclear Vision
Unity isn’t just bringing people together for a common cause, it is rallying people to a vision for what could be. It is standing back to back, fighting the enemy off. It is crossing the line in the sand and drawing your weapons to fight the enemy, not each other. Pick unity and you’ll find people pulled toward you. If the vision isn’t clear, people interpret it on their own, they poke holes. Both sides of vision are magnetic.

Fun and Laughter // Somber and Boring
Have fun with your people. Drop everything every so often to just have a good time. Plan a game night. Watch a classic movie together. A good belly laugh, a good laugh that goes all of the way to tears –  your people will feel the pull of leadership magnetism. You’ve probably felt it before when you first came on the team you’re on now. Laugh again! Change the office culture. It attracts great people.

Leave another one in the comments! What kind of magnetism is coming from you today?

JG

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5 Things Students NEED To Know From Their Leader

When it comes down to it, most of what we do is about relationships with students. In order to help students from one step of their faith to another, students need to know certain things about their leaders. Now when I say leader it can be many things: Pastor, mentor, small group leader etc.

They need to know that:

They Are Loved – Obvious right? But you would be surprised at how many students genuinely do not feel any sort of love from anybody. We as leaders need to make sure the students we minister go out of our way to make sure our students are feeling loved, not only by the staff and volunteers, but to help them understand they are loved by an incredible God.

They Are Known – One of the most important things a teenager has is their name. The fact that they can be greeted by their name is already a huge win. I am awful with names of new students. Awful. So I have to try really hard. But when I remember a name of a student who I met the week before you can see it in their face that they are happy that they are known. For guys in my small group, they are known. I know about things going on in their lives and I am intentional with making sure I ask questions about what is happening.

They Are Safe – Students need to know they are safe. Chances are if students are not able to talk to you because they do not feel safe they are not talking to anyone else about it either. You might say it from the stage, “Hey, we are here for you all, come talk to us.” But if they do not really KNOW they can, they probably wont. Going out of your way to ask them eye-to-eye, “Hey, how are you. Really” Let’s them know you really do care and that you can be trusted to talk to.

You Are Consistent – Because where students are developmentally, they cannot handle and process change really well. That is why meeting every week during the year is such a comforting thing for students. The fact that we are consistent in a constantly changing (they are changing, their world is changing, developmentally they are changing, etc.) life and world is huge to students. They need to know that you are going to be consistent.

You Are Not Judgmental – How we react to students when they tell us something because they trusted us… is huge. If they believe you are judgmental, good luck in having them come to you again with something they are struggling with. We are not to judge them but be there for them. Listen to them, ask them a ton of questions, speak truth in to their life but do it with grace. We have all messed up in our lives as well.

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Life Groups Meet N Greet

We do a thing in our ministry called Life Group Meet N Greet. Picture something like a Back To School Night for a high school, but for small groups. It is a night where we organize all of the small group leaders, all of the students, and all of the parents for a night where all of them can interact for a night (a lot of the times this will be the first time they do) and get the year started off right.

Here is just a short list of why we do certain things and what is available the night of just in case you might want to do a similar thing.

Leaders get their official roster this night. We don’t let students or leaders know who exactly is going to be in their group until this night, otherwise we will get a thousand phone calls and emails about this person is not with me and so on.

All changes for groups happens that night. Each staff member is in charge of putting together a grade/gender group. So we have tables set up so if there is a problem they go directly to the person who put that group together.

Leaders come and decorate their tables in a fun way to break the ice with their students. Some people get creative. Last year I had a Chipotle table and wrapped everything in foil and had Chipotle burritos for everyone.

Leaders get a chance to meet their students  and parents for the first time. This year a majority of our leaders are brand new to us and their students. It’s a great night for them to actually make face to face contact with parents otherwise they would be dropped off at group or they can drive themselves.

We let the students hang out with the leaders for a while and we pull the parents into a meeting where the staff gets to share our hearts for small groups and we share how we want to partner with them to see their students small spiritual lives can grow this year.

It’s only 90 minutes. We make it come anytime within that 90 minutes to meet everyone. We do this just get to get a face to a name and then the next week, all groups will meet in our students building to kick off the year together and then they will be in their host homes for the rest of the year.

Meet N Greet is a great way to get everyone together all at once to meet parents, students and leaders and is a great way to mass fix any problems with any groups in a way that wont make me want to pull out my hair. It is always a great hit with everyone involved and is a huge win for us as a ministry.

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How To Earn Trust In Small Groups

One of the many reasons why I love small groups is that it can be a place where students can come and be real with what is going on in their lives. It needs to be a place where they can be real because chances are, they do not have a place where they can let their guard down and truly be open and honest with EVERYTHING that they are dealing with on a daily basis. Small groups need to be a place of trust where they can know for a fact that they can be real there and it will not leak out into the open world in the form of gossip. If students even get a whiff of this happening, there goes trust and there goes the real chance of your group sharing life together.

So how do you get your group to the point of trusting each other so the group can be open, real and trustworthy?

Realize it takes time- It will not happen over night. If you notice, the longer the groups are together there is more trust there. It can take a good year for a group to fully grasp that the group is there so they can actually be real, open and honest. Give it time, it will happen.

Groups that play, trust each other- Small groups should be fun. Why should they be all work and no play? During the summer, my group does not do a study, we just meet on our normal night of meeting but we are swimming, laughing and eating. Of course there are some real conversations that go on in there about life and spirituality, but from what I noticed when groups can have fun together it tears down walls. Walls that hold them back. When we laugh together, we slowly begin to trust and know each other. It’s not all games, but I truly believe because our group has fun when it comes down to sharing life together it gets real really fast because they all have trust in each other.

Leader sets the ground rules- At the beginning of every small group year, I sit down my guys and let them a few of the ground rules of the group. One of the biggest and important ones I hit on is that this group will fail if there is no trust. I let them know that it is expected for them that if someone shares, it stays in the group and the group only. I also let them know, if anyone breaks this trust that they will be having a very tough conversation with me and then with the person they broke trust with. I want them to understand that this is VITAL to the group.

Have the tough conversation- If someone does break this trust (and it will happen because students make mistakes) it is vital to the group that it is taken care of immediately. Students need to know their leaders take trust seriously for the good of the group and the leaders need to squash any trust issues immediately and have that tough conversation.

Trust is earned-  It’s a scary step, but leaders need to lead in this. Why would students share about real things if their leaders are not? 9 times out of 10, the moment the leader shares something to the group that they have dealt with in the past or dealing with now, it shows students that we trust them enough to share and we are walking the walk.

What else would you add to this list?

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