4 Hurdles Small Groups Must Overcome

You know small groups have a huge impact on your ministry.  The idea of starting a program is daunting. But, the real hurdles come when you lead one.

When you oversee the program it’s about a strong strategy, vision and mission. When you get into the trenches it gets really messy.  And the reason leading a group can get messy is because:


The first time I sat down with my freshmen guys I was in pain.  I felt like I had to bribe them to get them to murmur. Getting the conversation going is one hurdle, to get them deep is another.  The key is patience.  

Each week ask God to open up the hearts of the teens in your group. Continue to share your story and do not be afraid to ask questions. The more you show the investment you are making, the more teens will respond.


When numbers dip it’s easy to feel like you are failing. Don’t give up and stay consistent. Look at the situation as an opportunity to intensely pour into the regulars.

With a smaller group the conversations will go deeper quickly.  You might learn something new about a teenager you wouldn’t have if there were a lot of people. Show the few teens that come that they are worth it.


Sometimes you can’t get them to talk and sometimes you cannot get them to let others speak. Whenever you have a dominant personality review the boundaries. Avoid calling the student out during the group. Look for an opportunity to pull them aside and address the situation.  Be sure to:

  • Affirm them by thanking for their willingness to participate.
  • Encourage them to encourage others to talk.
  • Give them tips on how to actively listen and not jump in.

If the problem persists you might need to ask them to take a step back for a week. If anything it’ll build up the confidence of the rest of the group. 


Leading a small group takes a lot of commitment.  Life will keep presenting obstacles and hurdles to overcome.  You might:

  • Have a long day at work.
  • Need to spend more time with family.
  • Experience a tragedy in the community that affects the teens.

Life will happen.  Acknowledge that challenge and revisit the vision.  Remind yourself of why this is important. 

Hurdles will always be a part of youth ministry. Face them directly. Trust that God is leading you and be persistent. If you approach them like a journey, you’ll know it takes one step at a time.

Question: What other hurdles have you faced in small group leading or youth ministry in general? You can leave a comment by clicking here.