I’m not a great small group leader and that’s what caused me to ignore them for a while. When I first took over my youth ministry position I was more inclined to the large group aspect. Little did I know I was ignoring one of the most essential parts of youth ministry…being relational.
Every youth ministry should focus on building a small group program. It enables teenagers to take the Gospel and apply it a personal and relational manner. It builds accountability, and allows a student to grow deeper in their faith. But, to have a healthy small group program is more than just lumping teens into groups…
…IT TAKES A STRATEGY
That means asking:
- How Do Small Groups Interact With The Rest Of The Church?
- What Content Should You Cover? (More on: How to go deeper and what questions to ask)
- Where And When Will They Meet? (More on: Ideal space for small groups)
- What Should They Look Like? (More on: Qualities of a leader)
Those are some of the basic questions you need to ask in developing the program, what comes next is maintaining their health. This is where it gets harder because you’ll have pushback. You’ll face obstacles and begin to engage in spiritual battle. To not only create, but maintain a healthy small group program you need to:
- Build Community Amongst Leaders: The more small group leaders know one another, the more they’ll lean on each other. This will remind them that they are not alone in what they do. Create opportunities for them to grow relationally. If you set meetings make sure they are worth their time.
- Protect The Integrity Of A Group: As groups grow they’ll get messy. For us it’s making sure we have at least 2 leaders and that groups never go above 12 teens. We also make sure groups are meeting regularly and maintaing the format of praying together, sharing life together and praying for one another. While there are exceptions, sticking to this structure protects them from the messiness.
- Constantly Share The Big Picture: It’s not only important to cast vision to your small group leaders, but to the students within the groups. This will allow them to see why small groups are important. You’ll avoid social clubs starting up because groups with a vision have a purpose. You’ll also equip the teenagers to see that Christian fellowship is an important part of their life. A habit they can take on to college and beyond.
If your youth ministry does not have a small group program, start working on one. Start small and do not rush it. Get the right people on board and invest into it. As your program grows, so will your ministry. Small groups will impact the large group portion of your ministry, your church and community in a powerful way.
What are other steps one can take to creating a healthy small group program?