There’s only a few weeks left with my senior guys small group. It’s sad because I’ve met with them at least once a week, every week for the last 4 years and next year they’ll be away at college. We’ve gone deep as a group, and the relationships I have with them extends past our weekly meeting.
If I’m totally honest it’s been a struggle to keep them together these past four years. We’ve faced a lot of challenges with schedules and life change. But, we’ve persevered and overall I feel like the group has been successful.
Successful small groups are healthy small groups. Healthy small groups are key to a healthy youth ministry. Teenagers will go deeper in their faith and your community will grow stronger. To keep these groups together despite all the challenges you need to make sure they have the right qualities. That means each of your small groups needs:
Two Leaders Per Group
They can survive with one; however, will thrive with two. Two leaders create a stronger small group because it:
- Allows teens to connect with multiple adults.
- It creates more dynamic conversations.
- Gives you margin if a leader has to miss a night.
Essentially, you are building a small group on teamwork, which alleviates the pressure that one leader might feel.
Boys And Girls Separated
Conversations in your groups will only go so deep. Hormones are raging in adolescence and the opposite sex can be a distraction. Girls have different problems than boys and vice versa. If a guy is sharing struggles with pornography a girl might not understand it at the same level. Successful groups allow for individuals to grow as deep as possible.
A Basic Meeting Framework
Successful groups have a basic framework. That means knowing what to do no matter what happens. For our groups we tell them above all else they just need to pray together, share life and pray for one another. Sharing life means reviewing the questions or talking about an issue that’s affecting a member of the group. Opening and closing in prayer reminds them to let God into the conversation.
Opportunities To Grow Outside
A group that connect and grow beyond the regular meetings will truly be successful. Encourage leaders to connect with the teens during the week with a text or phone call. Empower them to do team building (i.e. bowling or hiking) activities outside their usual meeting time. Small group time isn’t necessarily about quantity as much as it is quality.
Relationships With The Parents
Get the family on board and watch how far you can go. If a parent trusts you they’ll reach out to you in times of need. You’ll begin to understand why a teenager is the way he is because a parent will give you precious insight. The more you understand the lives of each teen outside of a group, the more successful you’ll be connecting with them inside.
Successful small groups still struggle, but in order to survive they need these qualities. It’s more than just reviewing curriculum and teaching them information. Small groups are about building life long relationships so teenagers know they are not alone in the journey.
What qualities would you add? Which one do you struggle implementing the most in your small groups?