I’ll be honest I was not always a fan of small groups for teens, it was too hard to please everyone and they got too cliquey. With that said, I gave it some time, I sought wisdom and now I believe small groups are an essential part of our ministry. Without them we wouldn’t have community and it would be a challenge to bring teens closer to Christ.
Regardless where you place small groups on your priorities list, if you want them to be successful, you need to have a plan. This is what we do for our small groups:
- Make Them Simple: We tell leaders that our groups are about two things: praying together and growing together. It allows our leaders to focus on why they are there, to connect students to Christ. If they are overwhelmed by the idea of speaking to teens, they just have to remember those two things.
- Curriculum Is A Guide: Our discussion questions and Bible references are important; however, it should never stand in the way of a teen opening him or herself up to the group. If there is a life moment that someone needs to share, that takes precedent. Our curriculum is a guide to move the relationships towards Christ.
- Make Them Consistent: Our groups meet weekly throughout the year. We do take a few breaks and the format relaxes in the summer; however, we believe consistency is key to a strong foundation. While we ask leaders to commit for the year, we challenge and encourage them to stay with the teens throughout middle school and high school. Most do.
- Pair Leaders Up: Leaders are also paired up so that they can take a week or two off if something comes up or they need a break. If a group can’t meet during our Thursday or Sunday night worship, we ask leaders to find a make up night, if not no big deal, just plan on meeting the next week.
- Separate Grades And Genders: While great fellowship can happen amongst all teens, we’ve found that having groups divided by grade and gender go deeper.
Do we run these groups perfectly? No. But, we are seeing a lot of fruit. Is our format set in stone? No. We know that as time changes so will our format, structure, curriculum, etc. Whether or not small groups are your strength it’s important to have a plan.
What’s your plan for small groups?