As I have written before, in my current ministry we are starting small groups from scratch. I believe in the power of small groups. I feel this is one of the best ways to disciple and help students grow in the knowledge of the Bible and how the Holy Spirit moves within the group leaders and students. When it comes to starting something from nothing, here are a few things I have been hitting on really hard:

Community first, Bible Study second – I know this sounds weird and almost out of order, but when it comes to small groups I think our students should understand what it looks like to be in an authentic community first that studies the Bible, not the other way around. They are a community that studies the Bible.

Facilitators, not teachers – Our leaders are discussion experts first, then teachers. The last thing a small group should be is student’s listening to another 30 minute message during group. They get that when they come to our youth group. Our leaders should be sparking conversations and allowing students to do most of the talking and they are there to spark the conversation when it dies. Of course there will be teaching aspects when the leaders get to speak into the lives of their students when things come up.

When students are in groups, I don’t worry about them – First off, I do care about all students. But as soon as a student gets into a small group, I know they are accounted for, loved, and known by their leader. When a student is in a small group I know they have an adult in their life pouring into them and I can focus on getting those who are not in a group in a group. The small group leader is their youth pastor. I know when a student has a problem, they won’t come to me, they will go to their small group leader because of the report they have with them.

You don’t need Bible scholars, just leaders who love students – Most adults are afraid to lead a small group because the assumption is they need to know the Bible. Obviously, that is a plus, but it’s not a deal breaker. We just require our leaders to love students and want to spend time with them and we will give them the curriculum and the tools to help lead discussions with students.

I know there have to be more, but the team and I have been really focusing on these aspects when it comes to training our leaders in leading a small group well.