I was talking to another youth pastor this week about how small groups can be a great entry point into our ministries. There are some students in our ministry that their first experience of any church is our small groups and then they are brought to the weekend services. When I look at the small groups in which have students inviting friends to join them in groups and them using small groups as an evangelism tool, I see some common things in those groups.

The leader sets the atmosphere -The leader is open, warm and loving and it shows in their personality. Even new students feel welcome to jump into a group even though the group might have been together for years already. The leader always makes sure they feel the love and they are invited to participate and experience what a small group entails. The other week, I had a student in my group bring a friend for the first time, he never been in a small group before and because I value first timers, my guys also value them and make them feel welcome. He now has been coming every week. The leader sets the tone.

The leader knows who to ask questions -From what I have noticed, the groups in which have a ton of students coming into small groups for the first time are the ones who know how to facilitate conversations well. They know how to not teach the entire time and let it drag but they know teach in a way so they can set up questions and lead discussions. And because they set the tone, students know it is a safe place to talk about things of faith and ideas of doubt without judgement. Real conversations are had and I believe students who have never been to a group are really attracted to places in which authentic and real conversations are happening.

Leaders value on group being a safe place Minus the standard and mandatory report issues, the groups in which place a high value and communicate it well to students are the groups in which students are bringing friends to. Because when this is a value, they know it can be a place in which open and real conversations can happen. Small groups should be a place where students can walk in and go, “Ahhhhhhhh. I know I’m in a safe place here.” There should be a sense of security there and leaders that establish that are the ones with growing groups.

Leaders who are reaching other people themselvesWhen students see their leaders doing the things they are telling them to do, they will more likely do the same. If they see you reaching out to others and how you do, they will follow it and know that it’s not something you’re “supposed to say” but it’s something you highly value and they will be likely to hold it in a higher value too. What good would it be if students asked the leader how to reach out to non-believing friends and the leader said, “You know what, I’m not sure I have never done it.” Good luck getting your students to do it. All the groups I see growing have leaders who are leading the way in how it’s done.

I’m sure there are more, but these four traits are the most dominant ones I see why some groups are turning into evangelism groups and kids are getting plugged in faster than ever.


Josh and I have teamed up with a full on teaching series called “GO” and small group curriculum called “Be a Bringer” that helps challenge students on the weekends and in small groups to go and reach out to friends. It’s a great bundle. Click HERE to check it out!