In my days of youth ministry I primarily spent my days with the “less” mature junior highers! On a side note and contrary to popular belief junior highers are not the less mature ones…they are actually mature beyond their years. Yeah they don’t care about showering, but that is the beauty of it they don’t care what people think and that is why I loved them. Anyways back to small group tips! Here are 3 tips that you can implement during your next small group gathering!
1) Don’t Lead! Often times as leaders we feel so inclined to make sure the entire night gets done. Meaning we want to check off all of our boxes prayer, sharing, discussion, come to Jesus moments, worship, etc. However, sometimes the best learning that can be done is be stepping back and see who your leaders are! It may take a week or 10, and no i’m not suggesting you stop your normal small group rhythm. What i’m saying is you can learn a lot about your students during that 90 minute small group session by simply not leading. For example…do they respect you (if they do they will in-time look to you to see if you are going to start the “schedule”).
2) Share! Students respond to truth, and will respond to you if you give them tidbits of truth about yourself. Yes this means being vulnerable! Students see them selves as adults, which we all know they are not, but treating them as adults by telling them about yourself and things you, your family, your work are struggling with or seeing God do will gain you considerable “klout” with all of them. IThe main reason I bring this up is do to the fact that we often “pepare” stories to share, and often times they are super safe! Get of of the box and challenge yourself to be vulnerable…I’m pretty sure your asking your students to be vulnerable also! No?
*Obviously, their is a fine line here when sharing about yourself, and we are assuming you understand that line. Be smart not stupid!
3) Breathe! It is easy to walk into small group, as the leader, wearing the stresses of your day and personal life. However, I challenge you to always compose yourself before you walk into the room or home that your small group takes place. The first 5 seconds of your interactions with your students each night will set the tone for the entire night. They can see the eye rolling that happens (for whatever reason job, finances, rough day) when you walk through the door and look to the host parent or co-leader. Once they see that…its game over for the night maybe even a month! Just breathe and take a second to prepare spiritually to help these kids tonight. BREAKING NEWS…its okay to cancel, let your co-leader lead, just play games, have ice cream if you need a break take a break. You will do far more harm by pushing through your personal life in front of your students. Some days we all just need a break and that is ok. *If you feel you don’t have the ability to take a break you are wrong…just cancel! Its like a hurt quarterback…they do no good if they can run!
4) Use LIVE Curriculum! I know shameful plug…but to be honest this is a game changer and will help you do the above three tips with ease! Your prep time will be cut in half if not more, you will be able to discuss the lessons online with the other small group leaders before “small group night” arrives. You can schedule everything for the next 4 years, or you can schedule simple for the next by asking your leaders what each groups students is wanting to discuss. Not to mention…its available on your phone or tablet making you look cool and if all else fails you can simple play Angry Birds until its closing time!
Thanks for loving students