I truly believe small groups are the back bone of ministry. In order to have a healthy youth group your small groups need to be healthy. They need to be a place where students can go, feel welcome, learn, mess up, grow in their faith, etc. If you want to make sure your small groups will suck for the year, do the following things:
Don’t have trained leaders- Make sure you don’t really spend time with leaders to let them know how to effectively run a small group, how to lead discussions, or what to do if a student asks a tough question. Don’t equip them to run the group in a way students can grow in their faith.
Don’t have a structure- Don’t give your leaders structure so they don’t give their groups structure. Don’t give them a direction you would like for them to take their groups. Don’t give them curriculum to teach their group and make sure they do it all on their own with all of the time they have after they get off work to lead a group for you.
Don’t have any trust established- Don’t make trust a main thing in your groups. Don’t explain to students that they can be at group and have it be a place where they can be open and honest with each other and know that there will be no judgement, but a place where you can actually talk about real problems. Make sure when someone spreads a rumor with something someone said in group that you do nothing about it.
Don’t have fun- Make sure it’s all business. Not fun. Squash any talk that doesn’t have to do with the lesson for that night and make sure you put all the students to sleep with the sound of your voice.
Don’t be real- Be a leader in which you are someone at group but in all other areas in your life you do nothing in which you teach your students. Don’t read the Bible, don’t pray, don’t hang out with non-Christians, post whatever you want on Facebook and Insta-gram even though you tell your students to watch what they post.
Don’t be consistent- Make sure to cancel group a few times a month because something else came up or because you don’t feel like it. Life is too crazy to have too many commitments so make sure your group is the first thing to cut when things are crazy. Your group would understand right?
Don’t stop talking- Make sure you talk the entirety of the group. Don’t allow students to say what they think or what they are feeling. Overall, the lesson is the most important part? Make sure students don’t share what is going on in their lives or what they think about the passage.
I hope you get the play in my tone with this. Obviously do all things opposite of the things I listed and I think your small group culture will be super healthy!