I love my adult small group. My wife and I are in a group with 3 other married couples from the church and we have been meeting together for over a year now. Tuesday nights have quickly become one of my favorite nights of the week for many reasons. When I was explaining to someone why I loved my small group so much it made me think of the small groups we as youth pastors lead. Students should feel the same and get the same things about their small group as much as we feel and get out of our own. Here are some things I love about my small group that I need to take a step back and look to make sure I am providing the same type of experience for our students.
It can be really easy to be getting what we feel we need rather than making sure we are doing the same thing for the ministry.
I can take a deep breath. I know when I walk into small group I can take a deep breath of relief because I know this is a safe place. What I am feeling and wrestling with won’t be judged but will be talked about openly and be prayed for and I will be encouraged by the people in my group. Are we making sure we are creating the same environment for the guys in my group? Am I created a place where they feel they can be real and open about things happening in their life? When they walk in the hoe we meet in do they take a deep breath of relief?
I’m expected to be challenged to grow. I know when I come into group we are doing to be gong through a certain topic and Scripture and we are going to asking tough questions to get us thinking. I walk into group knowing and expecting for me to be challenged in my faith and how I am living it out in my every day life. Is this the same thing my students know when they walk in? Do you expect to talk about things that will challenge them or do they think this is just a place to hang out and mess around at? Students should know being challenged and the expectation of growth is part of being in a group. That means being called out in a loving way, being held accountable, and answering tough questions to get them thinking is expected when they come to group. They shouldn’t be surprised when this happens because it is what they signed up for and what a group is al about.
I am expected to be authentic. When in group we are to talk about life. Not our Instagrammed, highlight reel but the life we don’t usually let others see. We talk about work, relationships, spiritual and emotional hardships. While we talk about them we are expected to be authentic with how we are doing with each of those things. Are the guys in my group expecting the same thing? Is this known? It can be really easy just to show up to group and give some ready-made answers and not really engage in conversation. I try to let my group know that chances are if they are not sharing and being real and authentic here at group, they are not being real and authentic anywhere else in their life outside of group. Group is the place to talk, vent, question things they are wanting to go through or if they are going through something in life this is the place to be real about it. It’s healthy to have this place set in our lives.
I’m in a small group for a reason. It’s where life change happens, I truly believe this. If I am growing in areas in my own life I can help my students grow in areas of their lives. If I was not in a small group and I was telling students to be in one, that defeats the purpose. I’m shocked at how many push small groups knowing how they help in growth in our lives but are not in one themselves. My challenge to those who are not in a small group themselves: be the model of what you want to see in your ministry. You will grow in many areas when you are in a group like described above. When you grow and model this with your students, you will begin to see growth as well.