One of the priorities for our student ministry is to connect kids to caring adults who can share and show them that Jesus changes everything. Part of what we value is that our small groups can make a big impact. I’ve seen it time and time again. More happens in small groups than happens in a large group, even though we often place major emphasis on large group gathering times.
That being said, we are working on embracing the lead small strategy in our student ministry, which helps small group leaders make a bigger impact than they even think they can. Here are the Five Major Strategies of Leading Small.
1. Be present: Connect students’ faith to a community – everybody needs somebody who knows their name and knows what is happening in their life. I like to think of this as the “Cheers effect.” We want to go where everybody knows their name. We want students to feel accepted and part of a community. That’s why Consistency is important.
2. Create a safe place: Students need to know that tension is okay. That they ought to be wrestling with their faith. Even this past Sunday we talked about the fact that they must own their faith. It can’t be something they inherit. If we believe that to be true, they need to have a safe place where they can discuss their doubts and get clarity in their faith as they grow.
3. Partner with parents: Strong faith is a daily faith. Parents have more of an impact on students than small group leaders do. That’s why we seek to partner with parents and encourage parents to partner with small group leaders. Family is important.
4. Make it personal: Good small group leaders can show their students a faith that is real. The people who have made the most impact in my life have done it by showing me how Jesus changes things. They’ve done it by modeling faith to me and inspiring me to “follow them as they follow Christ.”
5. Move them out: Small groups that only focus inward are not healthy. God wants us to be on mission. We need to engage their faith in a bigger story. We are working on moving them out so they can serve others and figure out how to Live to Give.
Keeping these five strategies in mind will improve small groups. They will help us realize that we have a great role to play with those in our sphere of influence.