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Tag Archives | small groups

4 Roadblocks To Small Group Growth

As groups are winding down for the summer I’m just reflecting on how groups grow and how awesome it is to see some leaders just dominate their groups and they are growing in their faith. I love it. I had a conversation with a few leaders a couple weeks ago about things that keep groups from growing. Here are the top 4:

Focusing on knowledge. Wait what? Isn’t that what a small group Bible study is for? To learn? Yes, but what good is knowledge if there is no application in one’s life? Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up but love builds up”. How does a group love? One of the biggest ways for your group to grow is to serve with them. Watch them grow when they are getting out of the circle and into the community. In James it says not to just listen to God’s word but to go do what it says. Growing groups serve others.

Forget Jesus is there. Sounds pretty elementary right? A non-growing group does it’s own thing. Maybe there is only focus on fun rather than actually sitting down and going through a study. A growing group remember that when two or more gather in His name, He is present. They know Jesus has power and that through conversation is where student’s faith is stretched as they wrestle with certain topics. They go through the curriculum provided by the ministry. They pray together.

You talk too much. Some leaders love to hear themselves teach. The only problem is, sometimes the students don’t. Small group is not the time to preach a sermon for 20 minutes to students. There is a time for this and it’s called church. Growing small groups are a place where the leader is a discussion facilitator not a preacher. Are there teaching moments? Of course. But growing groups have leaders who will know how to ask great questions and get students to think critically about their faith and help walk them through their thought process.

Why so serious? No one wants to come to a boring group. Especially students. Studying is great. Talking about faith is great. Bible discussion is great. But I see growing groups have fun! They don’t only talk about things of faith but things that are going on in their lives. They go see movies together, go eat together after youth group, they go play ninja tag in a park late at night. I love fun. Our jobs are fun so small groups should be fun too because even though you are having fun, some of the best conversations come out of having fun because having fun breaks down walls and barriers. Don’t be all business, go have fun with your group and see it grow.

What else do you think keep small groups from growing? What would you add?

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(Want to help train your volunteers/small group leaders? Click HERE to check out all DYM’s volunteer resources!)

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Transitioning Seniors

We run our life groups from October to June and take a break during the summer time. For our seniors, life groups are the hardest things to leave because for most, their groups have been together for years and most of them have had the same leader the entire time. No one likes to say goodbye, but graduating from the ministry is something that every church has to deal with.

This year we are trying to be more intentional with our senior life groups and getting them connected with our college ministry here at the church. I have been working with our college pastor and his team to scheduling time with our senior life groups for them to stop by their place of meeting and drop off some gifts and prizes and begin the connection between our ministry and theirs. I feel like transitions either go really well or really bad, and there is no in between. Having a place where students can go and be connected after high school is huge if we want to keep them involved in the church.

Our college ministry meets Thursday nights for a service with small groups attached to the end. College ministry takes over and help run our Sunday night services for the church as a whole (Service geared for 35 and under. This service is louder, different music, after service parties, but same message as the other services with Rick) and we push our students to those services after high school. Which is great because they are then connected to the church as a whole as well as with others their own age on Thursdays. With our college team meeting with and getting time with our seniors months before they graduate, they begin relationships and connections for when time comes where they are now in their ministry. Can’t start early enough to get them connected with the next stage of life and ministry in the church.

I think this will be a great win for our ministry and their ministry as we say good bye to our seniors and they say hello to their new freshman class.

What are some things you do to say good bye to your seniors? Do you get them connected to the church as a whole? What ministry? What does this look like for you?

(Here is a great 1-off message to send off seniors in the best way in the DYM store!)

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Student-Led Small Group Bible Study

One of my favorite things I do with my small group at the end of every year is allowing them to take us through a study. I allow them to take the lead and come up with and lead a discussion based on whatever topic they feel the Lord is pressing on their hearts. They are not always the smoothest, they are not always the “greatest”, but they are a huge part of learning and leading.

I know there can be some things that happen when a student runs things, but I believe those are risks worth taking because of the following reasons:

They read the Bible- You don’t need to be in youth ministry long to know most teenagers struggle reading consistently. But some some reason when they are given a chance to lead a study, they dive deeper into the text than I ever did leading them. They know more about the passage than I do, and it sticks for them.

They wrestle with it- I know when they are asking questions, it is questions they are wrestling with themselves. This shows me what they are thinking while they were reading through it and they want their peers to wrestle with the same.

They are working out their theology- Is everything they say theologically sound? Not always. But that’s why you are there. To help guide the discussions. How are students supposed to work out their theology if we are the ones who are telling them what they should be thinking. Small groups are the place for these things to be worked out and discussed.

I get to meet with them- For every study, I get to meet with the student leading that week for a one-on-one session to go over what they have planned to share. This is where I can help them and speak into the lesson a little bit to help them develop where they want the group to go.

Students need to hear other voices - Again, we know when students hear from people other than you, they will remember it more. I don’t know how it works but it does. Especially when it’s from a peer.

Like I said, it’s one of my favorite things I get to do with my students. I get to see them grow in leadership and faith. It is pretty great. I am always surprised by how great they all turn out. Do you do anything similar with your small groups? Do you allow students to try and lead?

Take a look at some small group teaching outlines students/small group leaders can walk through different books of the Bible with.

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Why Spiritual Growth Happens In Small Groups

I love our weekend services. I really do. I think they are so fun and I love the high energy that comes along with it. I love that students are high energy and they are being exposed to who Jesus is when they come on the weekend. But even on the weekends, we want to push students into small groups for spiritual growth because of these reasons:
  • In a  large group a student can feel like they don’t matter because they don’t know anyone. While in a small group they are reminded that they are loved greatly.
  • In a large group you can come in and go out without anybody really noticing. While in a small group it is impossible to hide. You will be seen and heard.
  • In a large group there is usually no food. This is tragic. In a small group (at least mine) we feast over amazing food and have great conversations while doing so.
  • In a large group they are listening to the teaching, which is great. While in a small group they can discuss and ask questions about the topic.
  • In a large group there is almost no accountability. While in a small group it is way easier to follow up with students.
  • In a large group we tend to think about our stuff going on in our lives. While in a small group we are reminded that others have problems just like us.
  • In a large group when a student is convicted, unless they come to us, we won’t know. While in a small group we have the time and ability to talk about those convictions.
  • In a large group any specific prayer requests can go unnoticed. While in a small group there is an opportunity to share what is going in student’s lives and be able to pray for them specifically.
  • In a large group after the teaching, students usually will just go home. While in a small group, hard questions can be asked and there will be time allowed for discussion and discovery.

Weekends are a great conversation starter for students. But small groups are where the conversations can continue and where spiritual growth can happen. They are where transformation happens. They are where leaders can push, encourage and challenge students in their faith and really open them up to what God has planned for them.

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We Can’t Change Students

I think one of the hardest things about a job as a youth worker/pastor is watching a student who used to be so involved not be anymore. A student who you have seen God made a complete 180 degree turn in go back to the ways they struggled with before and become more and more distant. It is heart breaking. It is even more heart-breaking when you need to console the mother of that student because she doesn’t know what to do anymore. What does one do with this? What can we possibly say in times like this? What can we actively do with this to move forward?

I’m going to be honest, I don’t know. It’s hard.

I have been working through this myself lately with some students and what I keep coming back to is this verse:

“How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God. That power is the same divine power which was demonstrated in Christ when he raised him from the dead.” (Ephesians 1:19b-20)

Something I have learned more this year than in my previous years in youth ministry is that we have the power to change no one. As much as we want to, we don’t have the power to do this. But we serve a God who can change the hearts and minds of those He created and loves. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power in which can cause someone to be open to listen to God, to others and take advice to turn their hearts around.

I don’t know if there are more steps to this, but this is what I have been doing this past year and I have seen God move in students who used to be far from Him to call them back and I am confident in prayer that He will do the same with those students right now that are far from Him as well.

Pray- Prayer is simple but it is not always easy. Patience is key to prayer. Pray God begins to soften their heart to be open to talking about what is happening.

Pursue- For students who are not coming like they used to because they know they are doing things that are not right, constantly pursue them. Let them know that you are thinking of them and praying for them and are there for them. Whether if they text back or not, they will know that you are still thinking about them.

Persist- We don’t know how long it will take, but we need to persist. I have seen in my own ministry, I have gotten a random text from a student months after them not being around but because they knew I was thinking about them weekly, when things got hard I would get a text to meet up with them because they knew I was wanting to meet with them for months.

Prepare - If they do reach out to you, be prepared for what is coming. Be prepared to listen. Listen well. Most of the time when I have these meetings I don’t say anything because I just want to hear what’s going on. I’m not quick to give advice unless asked. Usually this is the first of many meetings to follow.

God has the power to bring people back to Him. We do not. So pray, pursue, persist and prepare for those students who walk away. God can still move in huge ways and we get to be a vessel in bringing students back to Jesus. What an awesome job we have.

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How to create affordable meals for your small group

If I had to name the one thing that made our small groups so successful, it would be the fact that we always had dinner together. Every other week, we had shared a meal with 10 teens, and we loved it. So did they. Eating together is a powerful and often underused tool to help make your small group successful.

With one small group, we managed to eat together every other week for two years without ever serving the same food twice. And we did this on a fairly low budget, we never asked the teens to pay for the meals. And by meals I mean home cooked dinners, not McDonald’s or the equivalent. I realize this may be very European of me, but there’s a difference in eating together at a fast food chain, or sharing a home cooked meal in a home. Teens love the latter, especially those that don;t get this at home. 

So how did we do this? What are some tips for affordable meals for your small group? I’m glad you asked :)

1. Cook seasonal

If you want to cook low budget, cook in tune with the seasons. Look which fruits and vegetables are cheap and use those. In the winter, many fresh vegetables will be expensive, so either use the ones that aren’t (fresh spinach, kale, etc) or use frozen veggies.

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2. Buy in bulk

Having a freezer is almost essential if you have to cook for bigger groups regularly. Buying food in bulk is often cheaper, like big packages of meat, or 10 for $10 pasta offers.

3. Use coupons

It’s a bit of a time investment to learn ow to coupon and how to use coupons most effectively, but once you get the hang of it it will save you a lot of money. Did you know for instance that you can ‘stack’ coupons? That means that you can use a manufacturer’s coupon plus a store coupon at the same time. And if you use them when an item is also on sale, you get triple discount. That’s how I managed to buy red pasta sauce for as little as 50 cents per item. And when you see a good discount, buy in bulk (see above).

4. Use cheap meats

Meat is often the most expensive part of a meal. So use cheap meats, like ground beef, chicken, or turkey. They are very versatile in use, and can be used in practically any meal. With different sauces, veggies, or seasoning you can make them taste different in every meal! Or use a vegetarian recipe every now and then – some are so good you don’t even miss the meat!

5. Know what works

Some types of meals are easy to cook in larger quantities, some aren’t. Pasta usually works very well, as do casseroles or other types of dishes that go in the oven (like lasagna). Because exact timing is often difficult with teens, I always made dishes that could simmer a bit longer if necessary. So for instance, I’d make the pasta sauce in advance and wouldn’t put the pasta in until everyone was there. Don’t forget that cooking times go up when cooking in larger quantities, so plan accordingly. And do some googling for easy recipes. Try them out with your own family first, so you’ll know if it’s good or not.

6. Plan

Cooking for larger groups is something that requires planning. You’ll need to think ahead:

  • How many are coming?
  • Are there any people with special diets or food allergies? If so, what can I do to accommodate them?
  • What could I make for a group that size? Is this something I could reheat or freeze when I have left overs?
  • How much will they eat?
  • How long will the preparations take and how long is the actual cooking time? So what time do I need to start cooking?
  • Is what I want to cook doable in my kitchen? Are my pans big enough? How many burners do I need? Does this fit into the oven/microwave?
  • What groceries do I need? Do I have all the basics that I may need? (butter, spices, salt, pepper, herbs, etc.)
  • Where can we all sit, and what do we need for that? (plates, glasses, water, napkins)

One last thing. I know I am Dutch, and as such, I’m a bit more used to home cooking and eating healthy (I don’t mean to be offensive, but we don’t have the fast food culture America has). But I think it’s important to set a good example for your teens when you eat together. Many teens don’t learn healthy eating habits at home, so why not use this opportunity to teach them? We served vegetables in every meal, always drank water instead of soda, and often has a salad or something on the side. We’ve used many new flavors, dishes, vegetables, fruits, and recipes that our teens had never had before. Some they loved, most they ate, some they disliked. But at least we opened their world a little bit by introducing new ways to cook and eat. Just some food for thought, pun intended :)

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Helping Small Group Students When They Struggle

I really appreciated one of our veteran small group leaders named Matt from our High School Ministry. He was telling me about this great tool and exercise he did with his guys last week – then was great enough to allow me to share it on the blog! Here’s what he did:

Here’s that worksheet we used with our Lifegroup guys. The premise is that this survey is completely anonymous. Everyone gets the same identical form, the same color pen, we spread them out so they could fill it out without anyone seeing what they were checking off as a struggle in their life. They fold them over one time and put them on a table so that each one looks identical when its turned back in. I then shuffled them and handed them back out so everyone has one but its not their own sheet.


We told them that if for some reason they got their own sheet, don’t say anything about it. No one will know that was your sheet.  We then went down the list one item at a time and told them that if that particular struggle was checked on the sheet they were holding, to stand up. That really showed them the stuff they struggle with is probably something that someone else struggles with as well and they are not alone.


Because it was completely anonymous, I think they felt more comfortable admitting to some issues in their lives. It led four of our guys to reach out to us to talk about some pretty tough issues and to seek help. I don’t think this would have happened if not for doing this worksheet in the anonymous way that it was done. Its lead all of them to realize the importance of accountability partners and I’ve seen a couple of them start ministering to each other (love that by the way!).

Grab the form right here!

JG

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Discipleship = Time + Relationships

Matthew 28:18-20 – “Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’”.

I have been thinking a lot about discipleship lately. It’s hard. It’s so worth it. I have been thinking about how I myself have become a disciple of Jesus. I have been thinking about how we as a ministry are making sure we discipling students in a way that they would be making other disciples. My office mate and I were talking and he said something pretty great which got me thinking. He said, “I’m not concerned with how many students we baptize, I’m concerned with how many of those we baptize end up baptizing others. How do we get better in this?” Such a great question isn’t it? It’s a challenge we all need to take seriously and step back and look at how we are doing this.

Looking at what a disciple is: 1) someone who is willing to “go”. They knew what they saw about Jesus and had to go out and tell others about Him. We need to make sure our students KNOW what they believe to go out and tell others. 2) Disciples challenge others who believe to be baptized. While baptism is not what saves a person, it is the public confession of allegiance to Christ and willingness to enter into Christian discipleship. 3) a disciple reproduces themselves. While only some believers are gifted in teaching, all believers are called to share what they know about Jesus with others growing in their knowledge of Christ.

So what does this look like for you? How can you measure this in your ministry? I don’t know. I do believe that our small groups are the beginning of where many disciples are started but we always need to be striving to be better. I just know it takes a lot of time and it mostly stems out of a lot of relationships. As I look back on my own journey of discipleship, I can pin point certain people who were instrumental in my faith. They time they spent with me and the things they talked to me about regarding my faith made me who I am today and I’m grateful. Those people were Greg Tisor, who I used to volunteer for and now is a senior pastor and Mike Brook, who is now the college pastor here at Saddleback. They spent so much time and intentional in their relationship with me pointing me to Jesus.

I’m sure many of us can look at our stories and realize the same thing. There was a lot of time and a relationship in which helped us turn towards Jesus even more and I would love to hear your stories! DYM is a family and how do you get to know your family better? You share stories, so share in the comments below:

 How did you become a disciple?

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So You Want To Make a Change…

So you want to make a change in your ministry? Get ready! There is a ton of things that come a long with changing something in your ministry, some great things and some challenging things.

It’s an uphill battle. If there is a certain culture or thing that has been going on in your ministry and you want to change it, know that it is going to be an uphill battle. Programs can be easy to kill but a culture dies slow and fights hard. People get comfortable with status quo and change ruffles feathers. Just know it will be a fight.

Just because you are passionate doesn’t mean others will be. There have been things in life where I get really excited about certain things and when I tell others they are not nearly as excited, as I want them to be. If you want to lead a shift, you need to get others passionate about your version and start to help them see it like you do. You have to be a passionate leader who lays clear vision so others can effectively see the direction you want them to go.

You have to a broken record. Some of the greatest advice I have ever heard when it comes to casting a vision for change was: “When you start tot feel like a broken record because you repeat the vision over and over is probably the moment when your team is just now beginning to process the vision in general.” We have to be willing to be vocal and be consistent at it. A culture shift will take time.

We can’t change people. Only Jesus can. If we feel God is leading our ministry one way and we are seeking after Him and wanting to do what we feel he is calling us to do, the best first step is prayer. Pray for clear vision. Pray for clear communication. Pray for your team and their hearts. Pray for your ministry and your student’s hearts. If it is where God wants you to go He will begin to change the hearts of the people. Warning: this could take time.

It’s worth it.  The uphill battle, the vision casting, sounding like a broken record, the hard work, the sacrifice, the constant conversations, the struggles, the fights, the hard conversations, the yelling, the praying, the struggle is all worth it if it is going to produce better disciples of Jesus in the end.

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How To Disciple Like Jesus

When we look at the Gospels we can see clearly Jesus had a small group. He had 12 disciples. Out of this group there was life change, but not only life change but world change. I am currently reading through the Gospels right now and one of the things that stands out to me about how Jesus disciples his group and others around Him was how many questions he asked. His disciples would ask Him a question and He would answer with a question. At first I thought, “How annoying?” But as I began to think about it, it is genius. Getting people to even think about the questions they ask helps to get them to the answer that they are looking for.

We disciple most like Jesus when we learn how to ask our students great questions.

I have tried this the past few weeks with my own small group. They would ask a question and then I would answer with a question back. They would get frustrated because they want the easy answer but what I found is that they would begin to verbally process through the question and they would land on the answer they were looking for. We can readily give them the quick and easy answer but they won’t truly learn. I think if we as a leaders want to try to model after Jesus and how he discipled His group, we need to make our students work towards the answers they are seeking after by asking them better questions to get them thinking about their faith in Jesus.

Learn how to ask great questions and I think we will begin to see how students learn how to follow Jesus better.

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What I Want Out Of My Own Small Group

I love my adult small group. My wife and I are in a group with 3 other married couples from the church and we have been meeting together for over a year now. Tuesday nights have quickly become one of my favorite nights of the week for many reasons. When I was explaining to someone why I loved my small group so much it made me think of the small groups we as youth pastors lead. Students should feel the same and get the same things about their small group as much as we feel and get out of our own. Here are some things I love about my small group that I need to take a step back and look to make sure I am providing the same type of experience for our students.

It can be really easy to be getting what we feel we need rather than making sure we are doing the same thing for the ministry.

I can take a deep breath. I know when I walk into small group I can take a deep breath of relief because I know this is a safe place. What I am feeling and wrestling with won’t be judged but will be talked about openly and be prayed for and I will be encouraged by the people in my group. Are we making sure we are creating the same environment for the guys in my group? Am I created a place where they feel they can be real and open about things happening in their life? When they walk in the hoe we meet in do they take a deep breath of relief?

I’m expected to be challenged to grow. I know when I come into group we are doing to be gong through a certain topic and Scripture and we are going to asking tough questions to get us thinking. I walk into group knowing and expecting for me to be challenged in my faith and how I am living it out in my every day life. Is this the same thing my students know when they walk in? Do you expect to talk about things that will challenge them or do they think this is just a place to hang out and mess around at? Students should know being challenged and the expectation of growth is part of being in a group. That means being called out in a loving way, being held accountable, and answering tough questions to get them thinking is expected when they come to group. They shouldn’t be surprised when this happens because it is what they signed up for and what a group is al about.

I am expected to be authentic. When in group we are to talk about life. Not our Instagrammed, highlight reel but the life we don’t usually let others see. We talk about work, relationships, spiritual and emotional hardships. While we talk about them we are expected to be authentic with how we are doing with each of those things. Are the guys in my group expecting the same thing? Is this known? It can be really easy just to show up to group and give some ready-made answers and not really engage in conversation. I try to let my group know that chances are if they are not sharing and being real and authentic here at group, they are not being real and authentic anywhere else in their life outside of group. Group is the place to talk, vent, question things they are wanting to go through or if they are going through something in life this is the place to be real about it. It’s healthy to have this place set in our lives.

I’m in a small group for a reason. It’s where life change happens, I truly believe this. If I am growing in areas in my own life I can help my students grow in areas of their lives. If I was not in a small group and I was telling students to be in one, that defeats the purpose. I’m shocked at how many push small groups knowing how they help in growth in our lives but are not in one themselves. My challenge to those who are not in a small group themselves: be the model of what you want to see in your ministry. You will grow in many areas when you are in a group like described above. When you grow and model this with your students, you will begin to see growth as well.

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Uncomfortableness = Growth

When it comes to leading a small group we need to do just that…lead. Leading requires us to do some things that we don’t necessary want to do. When we lead small groups we are going through passages from Scripture and we are talking about life there are some things that are going to come up in your students lives that will require the hard conversation we tend to dread. No one likes to call out someone, but it is part of the responsibilities that we take on when we decide to take a group.

One of the biggest things I have learned in my own life and faith is we grow more spiritually when we are out of our comfort zones. We grow when we are uncomfortable.

As we go through life with students things are going to get messy. When we read about or talk about an issue the student needs to directly deal with we need to be able and confident in helping them walk through it. It should go something like this:

Student will realize what the Bible has to say about a certain thing.

The student then realizes that they need to make a change in how they think or act about a certain thing and this causes the uncomforted in faith.

We as leaders are to guide them towards that action.

Our job as leaders to push our students to make the right decision rather than the easy one.

The student will decide to work towards that action and we as leaders are to walk them through their uncomfortableness to help them grow in their faith.

When we help student navigate through the uncomfortableness of some real life faith issues we know that in the future it will be easier to take on the next challenge to obedience they encounter in the Bible.

Even though the tough conversation of teaching and correction are not what students love, they are critical to have if we want to see our students grow. Growth comes with uncomfortableness. We know that some of the Words of God are uncomfortable but we as leaders know when it demands a change of mindset or lifestyle, they are even more uncomfortable and we need to walk our students on what this looks like.

Embrace the uncomfortable and we will see our students grow. Have those conversations and be intentional with them and as awkward as they are, you can see growth out of them. God will help us through the uncomfortableness and help us to become more like Jesus.

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3 Wins of a Youth Ministry Built on Relationships

Relational youth ministry is the foundation for our ministry to students. We want to care for them, share life together and journey through the highs and lows of life. So what are the benefits of relational youth ministry? Here’s the “why” we make it a top priority to build relationships:

A focus on relational youth ministry gives …

students an increased ownership of ministry/faith.
Students who have a significant relationship with a caring adult stick. Students don’t fall through the cracks when they are known, loved and cared for. Connected students still fall away, but we’ve done everything in our power to pour into them to keep the faith. As a general rule, the students with the most relational investment have the highest percentage chance of owning their faith and ministry for a lifetime.

leaders a more holistic picture of student’s life.
Ministering to your student for the 2 hours a week of “official” small group time is the absolute minimum. What would it look like if we just added a wide open “+” to that time. The “+” could be simple – a text, a phone call, a Tweet, a Facebook message. The “+” could be huge, too – a visit to a students’ game, a visit to the home, showing up at a school play. Whatever the effort may be, it will give you as the small group leader a better glimpse into the world of your students. You’ll better understand them and how to minister to their needs.

both students and leaders increased openness.
When there is relational equity stored up in a small group there is more discussion. There is more trust. There is more authenticity. Discussions go beyond shallow chatter. There will always be nights when groups clam up, but as a general rule, if you want your group to share, get invested in their lives.

What are the other benefits of a relational youth ministry?

JG

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5 Signs Your Small Group Ministry Is Doing Things Right

As the school year is well half-way over and we are turning the corner on winter into spring I always want to see how things are going with our small groups. I started to think about what are some signs in which we can see that small groups are still gaining momentum in our ministry. If you have these things it is most likely your small group ministry is gaining traction too.

Your small group attendance is catching up to your programmed service. I think one of the great signs small groups are sticking and making a rise in your ministry is when your percentage of students in services is being gained on by the percentage of students in small groups every week. The closer those numbers get to each other, you know your small groups ministry is working hard.

You are adding small groups in the middle of the school year. It’s one thing to launch with a certain amount of small groups in the first of the year, but if you are adding small groups still it means your small groups ministry is doing something right. You are gaining more leaders and you are pushing students into small groups all year-long causing new ones to start. Super strong.

More and more people in your midweek/weekend services are “known”. Small groups are where students can be known. On a midweek or weekend service, their face might be known but because of the craziness of services it’s mostly surface stuff. In small groups we know those students are really “known” by their leader and the relationships carried over from small groups will show up in the midweek/weekend services. Trust me, you will see a difference in culture.

More students are serving in areas of the church. For HSM, our weekend services and events are our open front door where we expose students to the Gospel. Everything we do is to push students into small groups because I believe that is where true life change happens with peers and a caring leader and experience Jesus. When your small groups are in their groove we want to see student then be able to express Jesus in this world through service. When you have more students serving, chances are your small groups are producing that.

More and more stories of life change are popping up. Stories of life change are powerful. They are one of my favorite things. We do student testimonies in services from time to time and you know when your small groups are in full swing is when every single story of life change has to do with the students meeting Jesus and their small groups have a part in being a part of their story. When more and more stories of life change happens you know your small group ministry is working.

If you are having any of these happening in your ministry right now, chances are your small groups ministry is absolutely killing it and god is moving. Keep it up!

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The Inside Training

The other day I went out to coffee with one of our long time volunteers. He has been a life group leader in HSM for the last 7  years and the guy is so good at it. When we were talking I was just listening to him thinking, “This guy knows so much. I’m learning a so much right now.” Then he mentioned that he wished he could pass along what he knows to the younger, newer leaders. As I was sitting there (as a younger guy learning a ton) I asked him if he would be interested in hanging out with some of our newer small group leaders just to start a relationship with them and sort of mentorship with them. His eyes lit up and said he would jump on that in a second. So when I got back to my office, I sent out an email with him and 4 of our newer, younger leaders and they are setting up times to hang out with man who I would consider a pro.

I love this. Giving our veterans a chance to coach our rookies and start some great relationships within our ministry is a win/win situation. Here are some random thoughts on why I want to do this more intentionally:

  • It’s free training for our younger guys. Great reason.
  • Because we are de-centralized in small groups (small groups meet in homes all over) it starts relationships with leaders who other than our few trainings would never get together and hang out.
  • It empowers our veterans to help them invest even more into a ministry they have been serving whole-heartedly for years.
  • It gives key volunteers a sense of value and position.
  • It gives our younger/newer leaders a chance to ask questions and seek advice from another person.
  • It shows our younger/newer volunteers that we care for them and want to see them grow more in leadership and care for their groups.
  • Both groups of students will benefit from the interactions between the leaders as they learn from each other.
  • Leader care and accountability goes way up.

I’m sure there is a ton more that go along with this as well. As I am sitting here and reading our email thread I just see all the benefits of connecting our older leaders with our younger ones and I know we will be seeing some great things come out of that.

Do you have a system in which you get leaders together to share ideas or train each other? What do you do? Have you thought about it? Let us know in the comments below!

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