///A Look Into Saddleback HSM’s Small Groups

A Look Into Saddleback HSM’s Small Groups

I love small groups. This shouldn’t be a surprise as I over see all high school ministry small groups. There is just something about small groups that I cannot get over. I think for me one of the main reasons I love them so much because my own life was changed by God working through my small group leader and those in my group in high school and college. There is something special about them. God moves in huge ways in them and every year I reminded of this.

There are so many different ways to have small groups set up. I can say there is no perfect way, each ministry will have different needs and desires. I just wanted to give a little insight on how we do small groups at Saddleback HSM.

Saddleback HSM Small Groups are set up as:

  • Midweek small group meetings (95% of groups meet on Tuesday/Wednesday)
  • They meet from 7pm-9pm on either given night.
  • They are grade specific: 9th graders are in groups with other 9th graders and so on. We feel the age difference between a 9th grade student and 12th grade student is way different and it’s easier for others to open up with peers in the same grade.
  • They are gender specific: guys with guys and girls with girls. Because real life struggles and issues are talked about we feel there are some things wont be talked about in full if the opposite sex is in the room with them.
  • Our small groups go through a planned out curriculum that is given to our leaders. Each grade has their own track that they go through based on what we feel is the general issues they would want to address in any given time in their developmental stage.
  • 7th-8th grade – Go through the Gospels
  • 9th grade – New Testament
  • 10th grade – Foundations and Doctrine
  • 11th grade – Topical
  • 12th grade – Jesus
  • Our curriculum does not go with our weekend teaching. It is separate.
  • Goal is to have 2 leaders per small group with between 8-15 students in each group. We are not there quite yet, but we are working towards this.
  • Almost all of our volunteers are small group leaders and they run this ship. We could not do it without their time and dedication to this ministry.
  • We do 3 workshops throughout the year where all the small groups come to our student building and we teach on subjects that are a little harder for our small group leaders to teach. Students usually have the option to choose a few different workshops to go to. Some subjects are: sex and dating, homosexuality, stations of the cross, hot topics, heaven and hell, evangelism, etc.
  • After each workshop we have a leader training that’s attached to so we can be in contact with our leaders and do a training and hear from them about what God is doing in their groups.

Things are always changing. Even now, we are planning for small groups next year and there will be adjustments with curriculum, workshops, leaders and much more. they are a constantly moving and growing thing. Groups are often times messy and there are growing pains in numbers and growing pains in faith. One thing is for sure, they are worth it.

If you have any questions, let me know, I’d love to answer them!

How do you do small groups? How are they set up?


Do you know there are a ton of volunteer leader trainings here on DYM? Check them out HERE.


By |2014-09-07T03:58:48+00:00September 7th, 2014|Uncategorized|2 Comments

About the Author:

Justin Knowles has been a pastor for the last 10 years and is the Student Ministries Pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA. He hosts Youth Ministry Hacks Podcast, loves to write about his ministry journey and teach at all sorts of camps or retreats. He and his wife Kristin have a son named Graham and a cat named CATalie Portman. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @justinknowles3


  1. Matt Adams November 21, 2016 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Hey Justin,

    I’ve been going through a few older posts on small groups. I was wondering, where do you guys meet for small groups? Are you meeting at church or in homes? Just curious.

    Thanks a lot man!

    • Justin Knowles November 22, 2016 at 9:10 am - Reply

      Hey Matt,
      When this post was written, all of our groups met on Tuesdays or Wednesdays in homes all over. It was the group’s leader responsibility to find a host home to meet in. Let me know if you have any questions.

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