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Tag Archives | small groups

7 Requirements Of A Small Group Leader

We are gearing up for another round of life groups. As we speak, students are signing up for life groups and leaders are letting us know if they are returning with us for another year. New leaders are joining the team and things will be rolling really soon. As we begin recruiting new leaders for this year, here are a few things we look for in a small group leader:

Committed follower of Jesus - They need to know Jesus in order to lead students to Jesus. If they are actively seeking Him then we know they can help students do the same. We find out how they do this through our interview with every volunteer before they officially jump on with us.

Attends our church - They need to attend and call our church their home church. It does not make sense to attend one church and serve in another. You are splitting devotion. We want our leaders to bleed not only our ministry, but our church.

Has time - Leading a small group takes time commitment. It really is more than 2 hours during the midweek. Leading a small group is leading group during designated hours, plus the conversations, hang outs, games, Starbuck’s runs outside of group time.

Decision making - Leaders need to know how to make many decisions. What to do in a group setting when things get awkward, heated, silent and decide on what is the best thing to do to help push the group closer to who Jesus is.

21 or over - Our ideal leader is over the age of 21. This provides enough distance between seniors and the leader if they were to lead a senior group. Sometimes we have seniors who are leading a jr. high group and when they become freshmen, we will evaluate the leader and usually place them with a co-leader who is over 21.

Knows how to be real - One of the most important things about a small group leader is the capability to lead in discussion (not preach) and lead in being real and authentic with students. When leaders do this, students will do the same and allow Jesus to change their lives.

Knows how to have fun - Small groups with students need to be fun. There needs to be teaching, Bible, discussion and all that, but fun is a must. We want students to want to come and enjoy being there and a leader must know how to add fun in the mix. Fun breaks down walls and allows for students to be real.

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3 Mistakes We Can’t Fall Into With Small Groups

As we just opened up Life Group registration after summer camp, I’m thinking about the mistakes I made last year with small groups. These are 3 things to be aware of when small groups are in season and I hope you can learn from them like I have:

Not saying “no” to leaders who are not ready to lead students. This is not easy. I know the need for volunteers is always a thing. This doesn’t mean we can just take anyone in who wants to lead. We need to make sure the leader we do get are capable to lead a small group well and for some reason we don’t think they are ready, we say no. We let them know why and that in a year we can come back to this point and re-apply and re-evaluate.

Overseeing too many groups, alone. Leading leaders can be a great thing. But it’s much like a small group. You have too many to keep in contact with it can get harder to make time for all of them and make sure they are good. When we take on too many leaders to take care of, they can slack because they require equal care. When it gets too much, find another staff or volunteer to help take on the load and make sure everyone is cared for effectively.

Not making a marketing/promo plan. This one is overlooked the most. Many think small groups and the excitement for them just happens. Making a plan to get students in the small groups is huge, or if anything, makes you think ahead. I just submitted a marketing/promo plan for our team as we are rolling towards launching groups for the year. We know what videos, what testimonies of students, what social media details we will be putting out and when to make sure we are hitting key areas and key times to get students in groups. Momentum takes planning and being aware of what is going out.

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Our End Goal In Youth Ministry

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. 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.

This is the end goal of youth ministry and healthy small groups of God’s people are instrumental in bringing life change . . . repentance . . . transformation.

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4 Thoughts On Creating A Successful Small Group Ministry For Students

I have been chatting with quite a few people lately about small groups and how we do them. It really has got me thinking about how we do things and what really does make a successful small group ministry. When I took over small groups, it was an already thriving ministry and I have been trying not to sink it (HA!). But I have learned a few things about what needs there are to make a well ran small groups ministry for students.

  1. It takes time. Small groups are not a one-time, one-event type explosion of a ministry. Small groups deals with life change of students and this takes time. I know as a church, Saddleback is all about small groups. Everything revolves around them they have been doing them for 15+ years. It takes time and energy, so be patient, commit to a model and run with it.
  2. It takes personal commitment to create an authentic community. I know that as a student ministry we are doing well in small groups because the adults are doing well because our senior pastor is in full support of small groups. It’s the DNA of the church. I have talked to student pastors who’s senior pastors do not put a priority on small groups and it makes it a lot harder for successful student groups if it’s not a personal commitment from the upper leadership.
  3. It takes a decent budget. I know. This one is tough. But the saying, “Put your money where your mouth is” comes to mind. You can say all you want about small groups are important, but unless you put a budget to it for resources and leader care, it will be hard to move forward. One way we help with budgeting for them is we charge $35 for sign ups. It helps pays for resources for students throughout the year, leader trainings and resources and anything else for small groups. The only thing with this is, you only get the budget for however many sign up. I don’t know if this is the best way, but it works for us and allows me to have a budget to keep groups going throughout the year.
  4. Small groups need to be the end goal. Everything we do is to push students into small groups. All weekend services, all events, everything we do is to push students into small groups. We know that if a student ends in a group, the chance of them being discipled and experience life change goes up. It can be easy to think that if you have more things available you will get more people involved but sometimes it just makes it harder to choice which way to go. Having one, narrowed focus and end goal helps push students to be in one place and you can focus on making it awesome.

 

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Leaps Vs. Steps: Getting Them There

What is the opposite of faith?

It’s a question that deserves to be pondered and I have been thinking about it a lot. I would have to say the answer would be:

Sight.

If you can see something, you don’t need to have faith to know it’s there. When something is not right in front of you but someone tells you it’s there up ahead, you need faith in them because you can’t see it. So the opposite of faith, I would say, is sight.

There is a difference between having faith your ministry will get to a certain point and actually helping your ministry get there. We can have all the vision in the world for where we want our ministries to go but if we don’t have practical steps to get there we will never reach it. As pastors we love to take leaps of faith. The student’s in our ministries are sometimes not ready, mature, willing to take a leap of faith because they don’t know how or because they are afraid. So it’s our responsibility to show steps to how to get where we want them to go.

So a standard goal I’m sure we want to see is for all of our students reach is to be a fully developed follower of Jesus (This is just general to get my point across but I’m sure no one can argue this is something we want to see in student’s lives). We can have all the faith and vision in the world but unless we have tangible steps for students to take to get there, it will never happen. They just don’t leap to this point in their spirituality.

So what would this be? If the goal is a fully developed follower of Jesus, what would be some practical steps in your ministry be to help get them there? They are not going to make the leap to this point but they will take easy, tangible steps.

  • They need to read Scripture. Great. Very important. Do you have a place where they can be taught how to study the Bible? A Sunday school? A small group? A resource? Or do you just say read the Bible?
  • Accountability. It’s a big deal. Do they know HOW to get it and WHY they need to have this in their life? Do you have something they can receive this in their lives?
  • Quiet times. Awesome! Just saying it is not enough. Many students don’t know how to even go about how to read the Bible and have a quiet time and pray to God. Do we just assume they know what we say when we say, “Quiet time”?
  • Sharing the Gospel. Amazing. It’s a big deal. But are we just saying, “Ok, now go out and tell your friends about Jesus” or are there ways in which we can help them take the necessary steps to get to the point where they can confidently be able to articulate the Gospel to their friends? A curriculum? Class? Book? What?

See the difference? Having vision and faith is a huge part of ministry. Without God and the Holy Spirit moving in our lives and ministries we would have nothing. But in order to get students to go from here to there, we need to make sure they are not leaping into an abyss of confusion but stepping towards a firm foundation in their faith. They will hesitate at a huge leap but they will take a simple, tangible step.

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First 2 Years: 4 Things My Small Group Students Taught Me (pt 2)

Small Group 2

A few weeks ago, I ended my four-year small group journey with 11 of the best young men on the planet. They were the first group I have ever led, so naturally I have been processing so much about the experience. Through that, I have been able to write down and organize all of my thoughts, feelings, and lessons that I have learned along the way. I thought I’d share some of my most impactful ones with you guys. The first being, learning to have fun!

I am not fun. I will be the first to admit it. In fact, it is actually the first thing I tell the students in my cabin at camps. I am a rule follower through and through. So you can imagine my anxiety when I realized that I got the rowdiest group of students in my Life Group. And I know people often think, “oh, my students are the craziest.” But mine actually were. From almost burning down our cabin at winter camp, to being the only kids to get hurt at our weekend retreat, my guys quickly became known as the most rambunctious group of students in our ministry. I went crazy.

There were actually several nights that I went home after small group and was hurt and frustrated by the actions of my guys. I felt so disrespected and completely defeated. I had no idea why they were not engaging in group and how they couldn’t take anything seriously. Here is what I learned, it wasn’t all their fault… it was mine too! My Life Group program was SO BORING. My lessons were too long, I had too many rules, I didn’t pick my battles, and I just had no room for fun or laughter.

Once I started to change that around, I noticed HUGE changes. I would end group early to save time to just play together. We would spend some nights just getting ice cream and playing handball at elementary schools. We just had fun. Through that, we started being able to find compromises. We had a struggle… they wanted to rebel from my strictness and I wanted to force them to take things seriously. Once I loosened up, they tightened up.

My Life Group taught me such a valuable lesson, not just for ministry, but for life. To have fun. To not take everything so seriously. To break the rules every once in a while. To look the other way. To laugh a ton. And to make incredible memories. They truly revealed a big new piece of relational ministry and made me a better pastor through it.

By this time, the majority of schools should be out for the summer, meaning the end of small groups for many of us. As I continue to write these, share your experiences. Share a funny story or even a lesson of your own!

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3 Great Thoughts To Have In Writing Curriculum

Since Matt McGill has not posted something in a while here on DYM, I feel obligated to let others know just how smart the guy is. The other day a few of us went to lunch with Matt to pick his brain about how he writes curriculum. If you didn’t know, Matt is one of the best (in my opinion and hope you don’t mind me sharing this awesome insight) at writing and coming up with effective curriculum for students. We asked him a few things and he gave us some great thoughts and processes to how he thinks and goes about writing curriculum.

One of the best things he shared I feel like it’s too good not to share with all of you who write their own curriculum.

The question was: What is your goal with curriculum?

Matt’s answer: I want them to engage Scripture. There are 3 different things I want them to think about while going through a passage. Have them read the passage twice. Have them make notes of…

  • What confuses them.
  • What encourages them.
  • What convicts them.

Then get to the questions. But half the time you won’t make it to the questions because students will be discussing those 3 concepts for the majority of the group night. If we can get them thinking critically with Scripture, they will learn and grow in it.

Short, sweet and to the point. I think those 3 questions when it comes to students interacting with the Bible are huge and if we can get students to think in those ways, I know our students will be able to pull some great truths and apply it to their lives as they go through Scripture.

Let’s give Matt a big thanks for this insight. Grateful for him and the time we got to spend with him talking ministry.

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Check out all of Matt’s resources HERE.

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Small Group Leader Curriculum Brainstorm Meeting

Last night we had a wonderful meeting with some of our core volunteers about what next years curriculum should consist of. We realize our leaders our boots on the ground and they collectively have a great pulse of where our students are as whole based off the different groups they have. So the night is using their knowledge of this year, conversations they have had and situations they went throughout o help better our curriculum and small groups for next year. We explain that all ideas are exactly that… ideas. Hold on to them loosely because we may not use them. We want to include volunteers because they have some great insight and when they are included they feel ownership of the ministry. It was so fun to talk, discuss and dream with our leaders.

Here is what the basic run down looked like:

6pm – Leaders arrive
6:10pm- intros/thanks/prays lets eat.

  • Half way through eating (Get up and explains the discussion questions on each table. Our staff will be at tables with computers taking notes down). We had discussion questions about the year so leaders can dialogue about their favorite moments, least favorite moments, what worked for them to teach, anything creative they did to help a lesson and share stories of life change.

6:45pm – I explain the night, what future holds for small groups possibilities.

6:55pm – Explain the different stations

7pm – Dismiss to stations.

7:05pm – Stations start.

  • Sticky note ideas - MO2 lunch room. Using color coded notes, leaders will come up with ideas of topics for 1-off topics, curriculum 2-5 weeks series, small group workshop ideas, and video curriculum ideas. They basically think of different topics they deem important for students to know.
  • Video curriculum ideas – Common area offices  - station is watching part of different video curriculums and answering a questionnaire about what works, what doesn’t, how should it look, how long, what worksheets and type of questions should go with it?
  • FAQ - Josh’s office – What topics, questions, things came up that you felt unequipped to deal with? How can we better train you next year? What parts of our curriculum did you use and were effective?
  • Prayer station – MO2 lobby – Leaders will spend time in prayer over small groups next year. They will literally write out on note cards a prayer for their own small group, their own life, for HSM, and a ministry faith goal within their group.

7:50pm – Back to MO2 to pray and dismiss.
It was such a great night to get together with our leaders, eat, talk, have fun and pray as we prep for next year.

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If You Have Small Groups, You Need This Person To Run Them

Having someone over see small groups and run with them is an important position in ministry. Whether it is someone who would be getting paid or a volunteer running it, there is a certain type of person you need to make it run well. If I was the boss who was looking for someone to fill this position, here is the type of description I would give out.

Pursuing an authentic community – Small groups try to be an authentic, open, and honest community. Someone overseeing small groups in students, they need to know and understand what this community looks and feels like themselves so they can try to replicate it in student groups. The care about growth in Jesus, deep friendships and have a big itch for connecting students.

Knowing how to talk to, recruit great people – In order to run a small group you need small group leaders. But not just anybody. You need solid adults to lead students. No one told me you had to have the skills of a college football recruiter. This person should be good at finding, talking to and getting others to pour into the lives of students, asking them to join the life change.

Focus on leaders – We might over see the groups, but it’s never about us. the leaders who led the groups are the heroes. they are the boots on the ground. They have the pulse of whats happening in the ministry and they are the youth pastors to the students in their groups. Focussing on training and taking care of them is key and the one who oversees them needs to master in collecting stories and speaking about life-change going on.

Keep the end in mind – Small groups deal with life. Small groups do not show immediate growth. It can take years to see any fruit. So looking to see what can come out of small groups is key. It’s having faith God will do what He does and hopefully we will get to see the fruit from what can come out of a healthy small group ministry.

Basically, it is more than being a good administrator. It’s more than being the face of the ministry. It’s about being a great trainer to leaders to lead in a way in which we can allow the Holy Spirit to change lives, to do one-on-one ministry and create a community in which is authentic and honest to talk about real life to grow in Christ.

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First 2 Years: 4 Things My Small Group Students Taught Me

Small Group 1

This week, I had my last meeting with the small group I have lead for 4 years. These 11 guys were my very first small group and have become some of my favorite people in the world! God really blessed me with such a great group of guys, so obviously it has been a roller coaster of a week, being so a happy for them and excited to see where they go, while also being so sad to see them leave! They have grown and learned so much, and so have I.

This has been a week of reflecting and processing where I started and where I am now. When I started with them, I had just turned 20 and was still struggling to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Now, I’m 24 and working for a church that I love so much. It has been a crazy journey that all started that first night when I thought I had it all figured out… I quickly learned I had NO idea what I was doing.

Over the years, I’ve made some not-so-shiny mistakes and have had some incredible victories. I have learned so much and still have no idea what I’m doing… but I’m getting there. As I continue to process my four years with them, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned along the way.

Throughout the week, I’ll be posting several of the things God taught me about small group ministry and I’d love for you to join me. Comment on these posts with some of your favorite small group stories or share a lesson that you have learned about small groups.

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GUEST POST: He Said What??

If you’re like me, when you prepare a lesson for youth group, Sunday School, small group, or any other of your youth meetings, you like to have it be as clear and understandable as possible. We never want our students to go home more confused than when they arrived – that would just make us look bad! After all, we’re the person (paid or unpaid) the church is relying on to help students answer their questions about Jesus and about life. People just might start questioning what the heck we’re doing if students are leaving with not only their questions not being answered, but leaving with more questions.

But what if I said, “they should be leaving with more questions” or “we should not give them answers they’ll understand” – would that put an uneasy feeling in your stomach? Would that cause you and your senior pastor to spend some “quality” time together? We want students to feel comfortable and confident that if they come to us with questions that we’ll give them the right answer and send them on their way with a little more of a bounce in their step. How would it make us look if they went away confused and scratching their head?   It might make us look a little more like Jesus than you think.

In Matthew 9, the Pharisees asked Jesus why his disciples didn’t fast and he answered them by talking about a wedding, patching old clothes and putting wine into wineskins…what? In John 6 Jesus says his followers needed to eat his flesh and drink his blood…excuse me? I’m sure as the people walked away from these and other teachings from Jesus; they were a bit more confused than when it started. But I also think it did something we might not be doing with our teaching…it caused people to talk to others about it and work through the answers together. The conversations on the way home after hearing Jesus teach probably all started with the same question – “what do you think he meant by that?

Are we giving our students all the answers or are we creating opportunities for them to work through the answers together? Are they learning our faith or engaging in their own? Jesus created opportunities for discussion in and through his teachings. Should we be doing the same? Maybe the next time a student asks one of those great life questions we should answer them in a way that helps them work through the confusion with others. How can you create in your group an environment that fosters a “talk it through” mentality?

Nate Eckert is the youth pastor at Flora United Methodist Church in Flora, IN.

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Life Group End of Year Thank You Note

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We just finished writing a note to our Life Group leaders to give them a little thank you the day after our Life Groups year ended. Here’s  a copy of it you can copy/paste/adapt for your ministry, too!

HSM Life Group Leaders!

YOU ARE LEGENDARY!

It is hard to believe that another school year is wrapping up and another season of Life Groups is in the books. I know from talking to you this year that it was incredible, challenging and life-changing to both you and your students. You are instrumental part of the discipling of our students, and we are so thankful you followed God’s call to lead students to a stronger relationship with Christ this year.

If you led a freshman group: Thank you! Your gift of patience and grace was largely unseen and un-thanked but has eternal significance. You lived in crazytown and we love you for it.

If you led a sophomore group: Thank you for your sacrifice, your time, your hard work and your willingness to hang out with crazy high school students during the week. What a pivotal year for them in their adolescent and spiritual development.

If you led a junior group this year: We just wanted to take time to say, “Thank you.” It really has been an incredible year – and this one is SO important to students as they make their faith their own, and be grounded in the Word as they navigate big life decisions.

If you led a senior group this year: WAY TO GO! You made it! We celebrate with you today – this is a huge milestone and for many of you a tearful, joyful end to 4 years of serving students. The Instagram pictures and stories have been absolutely incredible.

We’ve got a full summer planned and are excited about what God is going to until we kick off Life Groups in the fall. Feel free to join us at HSM Summer Camp and more over the next couple of months. Your presence always makes it better.  So again, you are appreciated and we are so thankful for your heart to love God and love students!

JG

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3 Questions To Ask When Choosing Curriculum

As we wrap up the small groups for the year we are already thinking about next year. If you’re like me, you are thinking about curriculum.

What do we do?

Do we buy it? If so, what one?

Do we write it? Do we have enough time or man power to do so?

If so, what do we put into it?

Is it going to be good?

As we begin the process of putting together small group curriculum and think about discipleship, I think about 3 different questions when it comes to helping put together what we feel is the best curriculum for our students to grow stronger in Jesus:

  • Who is this for? When it comes to small groups, who is the curriculum for? Is it for students who are just checking things out? Is it for students who are your core students? Is it for your die-hards? When we begin to think about the type of stuff we are putting out, we will better understand the types of students you are attracting. Everything we do is for these types of groups and the age old question is: How do we get curriculum to make sure all are covered? What we can do is go before god in prayer, and have Him help guide to the bought or self-made curriculum you feel is best for your ministry. The trick is asking, who do you really want to reach?
  • What makes a disciple? Another question in which could have a million answers. What you consider the characteristics of a disciple usually determines the types of disciples you are going to make. Spend some time talking with your volunteer team and ask them what they feel makes a disciple of Jesus, then pick the top 3-5 ones and begin to develop a curriculum track towards those goals.
  • What is the process? I wish there was a magic potion we can drink and BOOOM! Instant disciple. If anyone knows, we know the discipleship process is exactly that… a process. Think baby steps. One of the great things about small groups, it’s already a baby step from the large group. Students began the process of joining a smaller group. Another great thing about groups are they last all year long, for four years. When you have them in your ministry, what are the benchmarks you would want them to hit as they go through this process? List them out, make sure your curriculum guides your students towards those goals.

Whether you like to buy curriculum or make your own, it’s a process. There is no better way or the best way. Each way is up to the pastor who hopefully is on their knees before God asking for direction on what way the group should go. Whatever it is you do, try to keep these questions in mind and hopefully it can help guide you to the perfect curriculum for your group next year.

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5 Benefits Of Involving Volunteers In Future Planning

We are winding down the small groups year this week. Most of our groups take a break for the summer. But just because groups are winding down doesn’t mean we get to stop working. We are already planning ahead for next years groups. One thing we are doing is putting together a meeting with some of our key volunteers to get their input on the direction of small groups and curriculum we are going to be going through next year. It is a simple brain storming meetings asking for their thoughts on the direction we should be going, what they think their students need to hear, and what was missed in the material we provided for them this year. I figured, who would have a better pulse on our students than the ones who spent the most time with them?

Here are some benefits for asking for volunteer’s inputs:

They feel/are valued - In general, when people are included in something, they feel valued. In instances like this, they are valued greatly. what they bring to the table is the best weapon for prepping for next year.

They feel they have a voice - When volunteers have an input in direction of anything, they feel like we actually listen to them. It’s not as easy to be given something and be passionate about it as it is to have your hand in something and be passionate about it. Curriculum and structure won’t be something ordered rather than something they helped create.

They feel ownership - When you have a say in something you feel like you own it. You’re proud of the end result. Therefore, you are excited about it and want to get others in on it. this is exactly what involving volunteers in brainstorming meetings does. Especially if you are going to change things up a little bit (which we are next year), it’s important they feel like they have a part in it.

They have the inside scoop - Small group leaders are in the trenches like we are. Yes, we might be paid for it (or not even) but they are the ones who are talking with, hanging out with, spending time with the students in your ministry. they know what topics are right on and they know what topics are missing. Lean into that.

We have a ton to learn from them - We have so many leaders who are just total studs. Leaders in which I get to hang out with and I end up walking away challenged and encouraged because of the ministry they are doing. There is a ton of great things to be learned when it comes to leading groups from some leaders. When we get all of our leaders together, they get a chance to share their wisdom and experiences with each other and they walk away feeling heard, inspired and challenged.

Moral of the story? Get your leaders involved, it will only make you better.

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GUEST POST: When Small Groups Aren’t Working

I love small groups! In fact, the church I serve at also loves small groups so much that they say we are not a church that does small groups; we are a church OF small groups. Small groups are a very important piece of the discipleship ministry in our student ministries department and as we are ready to end our small group season for the summer, I am already brainstorming for next year. In my planning I began to think, what happens when they don’t work? I say this because I have found that for some of our students, especially high school guys, small groups isn’t always something that they are willing to jump into. Of course this is always difficult for me because if I had it my way everyone would be involved in a small group ministry. So, what is the reason for pushback towards small groups? For some they may still not be at a place to make that commitment, or perhaps there is a lack of trust with a smaller community, perhaps they just don’t like small groups or maybe they are just comfortable showing up to our weekly outreach programs and leaving it at that. But here is the problem, if you are like me and the main piece of your discipleship ministry is small groups, then I think we would all be missing out if we just simply left these students in a place where discipleship is not happening because they are not showing up to a small group ministry.

So what can we do in this situation?

Here are a few thoughts:

Create different avenues for discipleship to happen
Don’t just rely on small groups to be the only option for discipleship to happen in your ministry. Create some different ways for students to connect in a discipleship context. Remember, everyone is wired differently. We are currently working on a 3 to 1 mentor/discipleship ministry where every youth worker is a mentor to 3 students. When we run out of team members to assign to students we line them up with mentors in the church. This may not work best in your context but continue to think outside the box to reach those who are missing out on discipleship.

Ask students what is keeping them from joining a small group
In my first two years of youth ministry I worked so hard to best serve students without ever asking them how I could better serve them. Sometimes we need to just sit down for coffee or lunch or go for a walk and ask students what is keeping them from joining. Maybe they are uncomfortable with small groups, but perhaps it’s scheduling, or the lack of transportation. Be sure to understand why a student is not getting more involved if they are at the point you think they should be committing more. Remember, ministry is relational; we cannot just guess and assume we know everything. And, if you’re going to be honest in your asking, allow room for the students to be honest in answering and prepare yourself to hear something you might not want to hear.

Pray
When something doesn’t work, no matter how many times God has proven faithful, I’m human and I still often panic rather than bringing the situation to God. If your small group ministry is not going like you hoped, perhaps it’s time to amp up your prayer for guidance in your leadership but also in the hearts of the students. We need to continue to pray for our students and for their hearts toward God.

Continue to over promote
You can say something 7 times to a group of people 7 different ways and many of them will still miss out. Be sure to always over communicate small groups, how to sign up, who the leaders are, where they are held, why they are important. If you really believe small group ministry is important than over communicate that importance.

As I start planning for next year I am hoping that we can find everyone where they are at and provide ways to encourage them to grow closer to Christ. These are just some of my ideas. What are some suggestions or ideas that you have to help with small groups when they are not working as planned? Please share below!

Kevin Klas has been in youth ministry for 10 years. He is currently the director of student ministries at Lake City Community Church in Lakewood, WA.

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