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:
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…
Last night was a small crowd but a powerful experience. There was pressure to cancel last night’s high school gathering because most of the teens would be out trick-o-treating. I went back and forth a little torn whether or not to cancel. In the end I decided that even if there was only one kid who would show up it would be worth it to still have program. It was worth it.
Small sometimes gets a bad rap in youth ministry. The pressure to have large numbers, and big turnouts can drive a youth minister crazy. While the physical growth of your ministry is essential it’s important not to forget what small can do for you. Small will help you:
As I’m planning for the fall and making sure leaders are contacting their small groups, I reflect on my own. It’s hard to believe they’ll all be seniors. It felt like yesterday that I was meeting them for the first time as scrawny little freshmen. Today they tower over me and make sure I know it. The most rewarding aspect of my group of guys is witnessing the depth that has occurred. What started as shallow guy talk has evolved over the year to true Christian accountability.
Small groups are an essential part to your ministry; however, they aren’t as simple as grabbing a group of teenagers together and asking questions. Small groups need to be able to go deeper, even when they aren’t meeting. That means making small groups a focus of your student ministry, and it also means:
I’m not the best small group leader; yet, I enjoy them so much. As a member of an adult small group it’s made me a better husband, father, son and child of God. As a leader for a teenage boys small group it’s helped me stay young and think outside the box. As a youth minister I’ve seen God at work in small groups as they mobilize the next generation.
I wasn’t always the biggest fan of small groups and that’s because I didn’t always have the best experience. Certain groups that I attended were either too much like a social hour with friends, or a religion class. There was a lack of tension between discipleship and fellowship. It’s with that tension that real growth happens.
In order to create life change, small groups need certain qualities that cultivate the tension. While there are many positive characteristics, 4 I recommend every small group has are: