Small groups sound simple, but they can be very messy. It takes work to build a program, recruit leaders and get buy in. But, once you have that you need to keep them healthy.
Small groups are messy because they are relational. But, that isn’t an excuse for them to have structure and systems. If anything your small groups need guidelines so that they can grow stronger and go deeper. To keep them healthy:
ALWAYS START WITH PRAYER
Prayer welcomes God into the group and it gives your time a solid start. Prayer will calm the nerves, and help your teens focus. When you lead with prayer you tell your teens, “God’s a part of this.”
SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS ON RULES
Whether it’s the first week or the 100th time you’ve gathered you need to make sure everyone is on the same page. Let them know:
- When to speak
- How to listen
- What to share
- And how to act.
When you lay out your expectations you give people a guide on how to act.
HAVE YOUR ENVIRONMENTS READY
A disorganized room is a major distraction. Before group starts make sure the room looks the way you want it to. Pick up any trash and do your best to create a comfortable environment.
It seems minor to have the room ready, but it shows intention. It’ll communicate to the group that you want them comfortable and you want them engaged.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO FOLLOW UP
Questions are a guideline to the conversation. Don’t just run through them like a check list, instead look at going deeper. Don’t be afraid to ask them to expand on an answer. Not only will it create deeper conversation but it will teach teens how to express themselves.
LEAN INTO ANY DISRUPTION
There will be those times a teen is a distraction. Don’t ignore it, instead lean into it. By addressing it early you prevent it from blowing up into something bad. It will also set an expectation that misbehavior isn’t tolerated.
But when you lean into a disruption do it with kindness. Be careful about calling out a teen in front of his friends. If possible talk to them afterwards. Let them know that you love them but that you don’t appreciate the disruption.
FOLLOW UP DURING THE WEEK
Healthy small groups are ones that keep in touch during the week. Doesn’t matter if it’s a text, email or phone call, small group leaders just need to reach out. It will help teens feel connected during the week.
PRAY FOR YOUR GROUP CONSTANTLY
Your small group is a spiritual journey for the teens and you. Ask God to walk with the teens during their week. Invite Him into your conversations. Allow God to work in and through you.
Small groups are messy because they are relational. While you’ll have guidelines and a format to follow remain flexible. Life will happen and you will need to address it. A good small group leader can go with the flow that teenage life can bring.
To have healthy small groups you need to have healthy leaders so make sure you are not only investing in them, but you are giving them clear direction. Make sure they know what to expect before serving and don’t forget to give them encouragement.
Question: What are you doing to keep small groups healthy? You can leave a comment by clicking here.