If I hear the same old story about Moses and the Red Sea one more time, said one minister's teenage daughter, I'll scream!
It's not that there's anything wrong with traditional methods of the church's ministry to youth, but many teens are looking for more. After years of learning Bible stories in their Sunday school classes, they are ready for an approach that makes them feel that they and their contributions are important.
In small groups where the Bible is studied inductively, youth learn and grow much better than in large groups alone. They also develop effective communication and caring skills. They can make the Bible relevant to their lives and apply it in the small group.
Kids are under tremendous pressures today; premarital sex, drug and alcohol abuse, thoughts of suicide—and these start as early as fifth or sixth grade! Youth are hurting. They are lost and lonely and afraid. In small groups they can develop friendships in which they are accepted for who they are. In small groups they are encouraged, supported, and cared for. They can tell how they feel, how they hurt, and know they will be appreciated and loved. They learn to reach out to and help others who are going through the same struggles.
How many kids can you as a teacher or youth minister really be tight with? Jesus had a significant discipling relationship with just twelve of his many followers, but he was tight with only three of those twelve apostles (Peter, James, and John). So, Jesus used different levels of small groups as a strategy to make disciples. We cannot influence every youth in the church, much less every one in our city. That's where small groups help. They expand the circle of influence in face-in-face, heart-to-heart ways.