One of my favorite things in the world is leading a small group. In fact, this year is the 10 year anniversary of me leading a group of younger guys in a small group setting. I just realized that. Dang. Anyways, I love it. At the end of this last school year I took over a group who are now going to be juniors this year. These guys have been together since they were in 7th grade, so I am the odd one out really, but over the summer we got so close and I can’t wait for the school year. Last week we had our first meeting of the school year and I always start off the first group the same way to set the tone for the year. I thought I would share some of the things we go through and hopefully it can be of some help.

FOOD!: Notice how that is in all caps and bold? Because I feel it’s that important. Our small group always meets from 7-9pm on Wednesdays. I tell them there is always going to be food and hang out for the first hour. Always. For high schoolers, nothing brings a group together more than eating and just talking while eating. Sometimes at the same time. When Jesus was hanging with His disciples it was around a feast. There is something about sharing a meal that just brings people together. This can get expensive I know, so we create a a list in which each mom will be responsible for a meal that feeds 15 one time during the year, and it is awesome. Usually they jump at the chance.

Commitment: I explain to my guys that for the year, my Wednesday nights for the year are blocked off from everything so that I can be at group and lead them. I explain that this is a non-negotiable for me and that I expect them to treat group the same way. When they signed up for group, they are committing to do their best to be there and participate. I tell them I understand sometime sports and family stuff will need to take priority at times, but in general I expect them to be there and they know that. If that is not a high priority then it would be a waste of both of our time.

#RealTalk: #RealTalk is something we say when it is time to get down to business. The first hour of us being together is hang out and eating and messing around, the second half of our time is #RealTalk where we dive into Scripture. Whether we are going through a passage or a curriculum, I tell them my job as their leader is to create discussion and then step back. I want them to do most of the talking and teaching and just talk through some of the stuff we are going through. I tell them that I am going to push them to think and that I am not afraid of silence because “silence is men thinking”. I let them know right off the bat, that if they are not going to take #RealTalk serious, that I will ask them to go home if they are being a distraction to our discussion. It is okay to have fun and be dumb while we are eating and hanging, but not during this time.

To be continued…