For a long time, youth ministry small groups have  been the preferred choice of youth ministers for launching a discipleship program. This is understandable as the format seems to work and it doesn’t “feel” like discipleship class. Small groups are relatively easy to conduct, but they require a lot of organization and preparation.

    • Decide how you want to separate teens into groups – some assign homes by gender or age. Others use host homes as a way to provide different “levels” of youth discipleship and mentoring. Others may allow teens to choose their small group, though this can cause attendance problems and encourage the formation of cliques. (Remember, it is good to encourage teenagers to get to know other kids in the group in order to build unity.)
    • Recruit hosts. For some, this is the most difficult task of them all. You may choose to have small groups in the same homes each month, or if you are blessed with enough volunteers, you may be able to rotate homes to keep things intersting. Both options work fine, but the latter option allows you to hold more meetings if necessary. You do NOT want to have small groups in the youth pastor’s home if possible. (I’ll tell you why in a minute).
    • Find teachers. That’s right…not every host wants to lead a small group. Your teacher is responsible for the logistics of the class. If you prefer, you can supply them with curriculum. For seasoned teachers, you may assign a topic and let them run with it.

Help! I’m a Small Group Leader

    • Have food. I don’t care how spiritual your teens are, it takes a lot to get them out of their pajamas, in their car and across town on a Saturday or Sunday evening. Food helps. This can either be provided by the host home or supplied by the youth budget.
    • Set a time and stick to it, especially on school nights and for the junior highers that don’t drive. Nothing makes a parent grumpier than having to weight thirty minutes past pickup time to get their kid. (Don’t act like you don’t know that…we’ve all done it.) This isn’t to say that kids cannot stay a little late. Just make sure that the teacher enforces the time in respect for the host home.  (TIP:  make sure you have plenty of hangout time INCLUDED in the time, whether that be the beginning or the end. Teens will feel cheated if you don’t, plus, it is kind of part of that whole unity thing to. )
    • Promote. As many leaders as possible need to be on board with the youth ministry’s small groups. Ask the media pastor to throw a slide up in the main sanctuary, or even better, make a promotional video. The more excitement that surrounds a start up ministry, the better.
    • Reward faithfulness. Consider offering an incentive for those youth who complete a certain number of weeks in discipleship courses. This could be a youth ministry t-shirt, a discount on the next youth trip, or a special party.

99 Thoughts for Small Groups Leaders – Physical

  • Show your support. Remember earlier when I said to be sure and find alternate locations for small groups than in your home? That is because if the youth pastor is hosting one of five small groups, he cannot show his support for the others.  And if the kids really like you, they may feel that you are playing favorites with the kids in your group, thus resulting in a small groups rebellion. (Okay, maybe that was a little farfetched, but you get the drift.)