The Ideal Space For Small Groups

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I was talking with a fellow youth minister about small groups.  We were going back and forth discussing the keys to a healthy one:

  • Committed And Loving Leaders
  • Engaging Content
  • Clear Structure

And then we got to small group environments.  While we both agreed that environments needed to be inviting and welcoming, we couldn’t decide whether it was best to meet in homes or in the church itself.  In fact when you go from church to church how they do student small groups is going to change here and there; however, the most drastic difference is where they meet.  So where is the most ideal meeting space?
Home: Homes have a family like environment, if a teen has never been to a church before this is a great step to getting them in the door.  In homes you can get other church members involved by playing host.  It’s also easier to do multiple meeting nights, because you do not have to compete for church building space.
Church: Groups in the church makes it easier to connect teens from your programming to the adult church environment.  It helps young believers teens get acclimated and familiar with the church building.

Home: Finding host homes is a difficult task, and it requires more background checks and screening.  If a host home is unavailable because the host is on vacation or has an illness, the group must find a back up plan last minute which could serve difficult.
Church: Ministry may be limited to only one night, because any church run events “demands” the youth minister attends.  Having small groups on one night per week means that not everyone can participate.

Home: Having groups in homes could serve as an obstacle to getting teens into corporate worship.  They’ll feel a part of a small church; however, connecting to the larger, local church may prove difficult.
Church:  It’s environment can hold back comfort and engagement.  It could also promote more of a religious education feel instead of a fellowship, life sharing atmosphere.

Home: In homes groups can grow without the limits of a church.  New group means new homes, which can be a symbol of growth.  It has the opportunity of creating a bigger buzz because of it’s spread through the community.
Church: Get the teens familiar with the building it proves as an easier stepping stone to getting teens involved in the adult community.  You can expose the teens to the larger churches message as well as their efforts through ministry and missions.

Of course there are more strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities; however, I can’t list them all and I’m sure there are some I haven’t thought of.  While environment can impact the flow of the group the key to success is through the relationships.

What’s your preference homes or church?