The biggest fear my small group leaders have is dead air. We’ve all been there, right? You spend time crafting the perfect set of small group questions only to hear the sound of crickets in your group. Or they give you one word answers and you’re done with all the material you have prepped in five minutes. That can be intimidating to a seasoned veteran and absolutely terrifying to a fresh volunteer.

To combat these problems, and to make my small group leaders feel more prepared, I created these baskets for each of my ministry’s small groups. These would work for both groups that meet in conjunction with their ministry’s weekly programming and also for groups that meet throughout the week in homes.

Creating something like this for your group is not a big financial expense (excluding printing and laminating, these cost me less than $5/each to make) and could be scaled for any size ministry.

What’s in my small group basket:

  • Prompts to help teach students to pray(popcorn and sandwich) — cost of printing/lamination —I’ve created some printable items that are like active prayer prompts to use with students. These work to teach them how to pray and also to try to get everyone in the group comfortable participating in prayer.
  • Back up silly and serious discussion questions(pink cards) — cost of printing/lamination — These are random questions and conversation starters that are there to eliminate dead air moments.
  • Thought Bubble pieces and a sharpie— Thought bubbles are 24/$1 in the Target Dollar spot and I split them up between groups, so $0.25 a basket — Small group leaders can have their group work together to decide on the key takeaway they learned that week, fill out a bubble, and stick it on our magnet board in the youth room.
  • Black book— 8 /$3 in the Target Dollar Spot — We use these are prayer journals. It’s important to flip back and see how God worked in the situations we’ve been praying over. It’s also a great way for small group leaders to remember and followup with things students are going through. Side note: These are fun to jazz up with metallic sharpies or ‘Hello My Name is’ stickers.
  • Game card and dice — Game is 30/$1 in the Target Dollar Spot and Foam Dice is 2/$1 at Dollar Tree — This is a simple icebreaker game. Find some simple group activity to include for small group leaders in case they have new students to welcome into the group.
  • Whiteboard Cube— $1 each at Dollar Tree — Use a wet erase marker on that to help on nights when students are reluctant to talk. Put a question on each side, throw the cube, and whoever catches it has to answer the question their thumb is on.
  • Basket— $1 each at Dollar Tree

Not pictured:

  • Pens
  • New student info card
  • Attendance sheet
  • Weekly discussion questions

The biggest thing this project took was the time to think through what I could provide to help my volunteers win. Whatever element in your ministry — whether it’s small groups, worship team, student leaders, etc. — stop and think what ways you could set them up to succeed and remove the obstacles out of their way.

Allison Williams in a youth pastor and author on Download Youth Ministry.