I have been chatting with quite a few people lately about small groups and how we do them. It really has got me thinking about how we do things and what really does make a successful small group ministry. When I took over small groups, it was an already thriving ministry and I have been trying not to sink it (HA!). But I have learned a few things about what needs there are to make a well ran small groups ministry for students.
- It takes time. Small groups are not a one-time, one-event type explosion of a ministry. Small groups deals with life change of students and this takes time. I know as a church, Saddleback is all about small groups. Everything revolves around them they have been doing them for 15+ years. It takes time and energy, so be patient, commit to a model and run with it.
- It takes personal commitment to create an authentic community. I know that as a student ministry we are doing well in small groups because the adults are doing well because our senior pastor is in full support of small groups. It’s the DNA of the church. I have talked to student pastors who’s senior pastors do not put a priority on small groups and it makes it a lot harder for successful student groups if it’s not a personal commitment from the upper leadership.
- It takes a decent budget. I know. This one is tough. But the saying, “Put your money where your mouth is” comes to mind. You can say all you want about small groups are important, but unless you put a budget to it for resources and leader care, it will be hard to move forward. One way we help with budgeting for them is we charge $35 for sign ups. It helps pays for resources for students throughout the year, leader trainings and resources and anything else for small groups. The only thing with this is, you only get the budget for however many sign up. I don’t know if this is the best way, but it works for us and allows me to have a budget to keep groups going throughout the year.
- Small groups need to be the end goal. Everything we do is to push students into small groups. All weekend services, all events, everything we do is to push students into small groups. We know that if a student ends in a group, the chance of them being discipled and experience life change goes up. It can be easy to think that if you have more things available you will get more people involved but sometimes it just makes it harder to choice which way to go. Having one, narrowed focus and end goal helps push students to be in one place and you can focus on making it awesome.