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Youth Small Groups

When looking to start a small group youth ministry, what are the first steps?

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Darryl is a youth minister that coordinates his church's weekly Jr.-Sr. High youth program. He currently organizes a large group weekly meeting including contemporary worship and teaching. He senses the need for his students to grow deeper in their faith and wants to add several small groups led by adult volunteers. He is concerned the kids (and their parents) won't commit to yet another weekly activity.

How should Darryl proceed to get commitment to the weekly small group meeting?

Darryl may consider a simple mode of restructuring. Rather than add small group ministries to an already busy schedule, substitute one or two youth group meetings each month with a small group meeting. Here's how:

If Darryl's Sr. High Youth Group meets weekly on Sunday evenings, schedule the small group ministries to meet every other Sunday evening in place of Youth Group.

Darryl may also consider developing student leaders from within his own youth group to lead the small groups(instead of adults). Training could be implemented into a regular youth group meetings over the course of several weeks. Everybody receives the same student leadership training and then small groups are led on a rotational basis by all students. For those who are not "leader-worthy", they can be paired with others who are. This will help develop a sense of ownership in the church, youth group and small group ministries on all students' behalf. This will also help all students prepare for ministries of their own later in life.

Good Luck Darryl!

Greg Schelske, Immanuel U.M.C. (Logan, OH)

Darryl should hold an interest session before or after his weekly worship time to lay out his vision. At the end of that short meeting, he could leave a survey for the students to quickly fill out. He could then check with the parents to see if rides would be a problem. This answer assumes that he has presented his small group vision to his church leadership and prayed over his plans.

Bill Mason, Community Christian Church

The first step is to recruit student leadership. In order to become very effective student leadership is vital. Encourage those leaders to use God's gifts openly and make sure to cultivate them. Nobody wants another program so this has to be a life changing event. This is where kids are allowed to be themselves. Share who God is to them, what God is telling them to do, then allow them to act upon what God is saying. Give them permission to grow as God leads them. I heard an interesting comment this past summer, "Kids are not given the Jr. Holy Spirit when they are saved, they are given the same one adults receive."

What that means to me is that to often we stifle our children's growth by not allowing them to seek God on their own. Only through action can they learn. Your past experiences can encourage them but only their experience will change their lives. I would encourage them to have great faith, to dream God sized dreams, get out of their way, empower them to the best of my ability. When they fail, be there, help them back up, and send them out again! They could possibly change your life!

Bill Downing, Grace Fellowship

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