A few months ago I gave our team a survey with one of the questions being about what are the best leaders at your campus doing in engaging small groups. All of our staff, without knowing what others said, all said that the BEST leaders in our ministry do these FOUR things.

Last week we did a big training to challenge our leaders and ask them a the big question:

Do you know how to win as a Sandals Church Youth leader? 

Here are 4 questions we want them to be able to answer “YES” to every week this year so they can know they are winning as a leader in our ministry (In typical youth ministry form, they all start with “F’s because alliteration works):

Faith Conversation: Have you had a conversation about Jesus?


  • We need to make sure all leaders bring conversations back to faith. We have had too many groups not even getting to the group questions about the message they just heard. Whenever we talk with students, as leaders, we want to always bring it back to our faith.
  • Small groups: This is an easy win for this. Small groups should be going through the discussion questions we have provided for each group. The small group questions wont be everything, but they are something… and we want you to use something.
  • The 15 minute rule: The 15 minutes before or after service can be the most important time during the night. It’s the unstructured, random time where conversations can happen about faith.
  • Here is the ask: Point students back to Jesus in a conversation with them. Not every conversation needs to be about faith but we are missing the point if none of our conversations are.


Follow Up: Did you follow up?


  • When we follow up with a conversation, a new student, with a prayer request we show that we are doing life with them and we are there for them.
  • When we follow up with a new student, it could be a deciding factor whether a student chooses to come back or not. A first invite is easy. An invite back is intentional. Let’s be intentional.
  • Best follow up practices:
    • “Reach Out” –  get their info / make the first contact after the night to student AND family. 
    • “Invite” – Personally  Invite them back. Different than just a Group Text invite. 
    • “Involve” –  add them to all the group chats / rosters / social media.
  • Here is the ask: Call or text the student before the following Wednesday.


Family: Did you make a connection with a family this week?


  • It really is interesting how many parents drop off their students and never meet the people they are dropping off their student for. It’s also really interesting for how many leaders have not reached out to know parents of their students. We have an incredible opportunity to not only minister to our students, but their families as well. 
  • We all have heard stories of students who first started coming to church, got saved, and then their families started to attend as well. When we are intentional with our students families, we can really partner with parents/guardians because they are with their students the other 166 hours during the week compared to our 2-3 hours. 
  • Here is the ask: Make one connection a week with a student’s family a week. 

What could this look like:

  • For some families, they might come to church, so just physically meeting them and knowing their name and getting their cell phone number would be a win. 
  • For some, just letting their parents know how awesome their kid is after group or through email throughout the week. Parents love to hear how awesome their kids are. 
  • For some, you might be close to their family and be invited to dinners. Do it. Any time you can be with the family, it’s a good thing. 
  • Take 30 seconds and send them a text asking how they are and how you can pray for them specifically. You will be amazed how simple and powerful that is.
  • Shoot an email updating them on what conversations and group has been like (obviously keeping the confidence of your students) but parents love to be in the know. 
  • Connect with the parents/guardians via social media. Most of GenZ parents have it. It could be an easy way to share a story or make a connection with them. 

Fellowship +: Have you engaged your students beyond Wednesday night this week?



  • How are you interacting the other 166 hours during the week? We have our students for 2 hours on Wednesdays, there are 166 other hours during the week… what are you doing to engage them?
  • During the week in person: When interacting with students outside of Wednesday nights is a great time to get away from the physical church building and have faith discussions with our students. Some of the best conversations happen when we go into their world.
  • During the week digitally: Digital is the new personal. GenZ lives online. A majority of your students live online so we need to go where they are. A DM, a share, a comment, etc are all good areas where we can make those extra connections, the +, during the week.
  • Here is the ask: Don’t let Wednesdays be the only time you connect with your students. Connect in some way with at least 2 students.

This is what we challenged all our leaders with and I am excited to see them all take it on and give some F’s (which is what I wanted to call it but obviously, I can’t ha!)