Recently, I asked one of my good friends to help me co-lead my small group. Leading a small group is his very first taste of youth ministry and it has been such a cool thing to be a part of. One of the best parts about helping him is realizing how much God has taught me about leading a small group over the past three years. I thought I would share three of the most important lessons that I shared with him:
-It’s all about the discussion! Small group isn’t the place to lecture. Too often, small group leaders take up their entire lesson sharing what they want to talk about. While I admire their passion for sharing what God has put on their heart, small group is a place where students learn and discover, and a part of the process is making them do a little work. Small group is a place for students to grow together as a group. They should be processing and engaging with each other. As a small group leader, we are simply there to facilitate a conversation. Always find a way to get them talking and engaging with the material. They should be speaking WAY more than you should be.
-Meet them where they are at. I feel like this is something that many first year small group leaders struggle with. Part of being a small group leader is being intuitive. You need to be able to feel out where your students are at. I think some first-time leaders go into it expecting high school students to know a lot about the Bible already, so they plan lessons about advanced doctrine. The truth is, many students aren’t ready for that and many students still can’t even tell you the Gospel! We have to see where are students are at in their faith and meet them there. Don’t wait for them to catch up to where you want them to be, go back and help them get there.
-You have to invest in social stock. I was talking with a small group leader about spending time with students and he didn’t see the point of just getting lunch with a student without a deep, life-changing conversation. What he hadn’t realized yet is the power of social stock. You can’t expect every student to immediately open up to you. You need to build social stock. Every inside joke, every Starbucks run, and every midnight Denny’s breakfast builds your stock with them, allowing them to learn to respect you, trust you, and feel comfortable being vulnerable around you. Social stock is what takes a student from just hearing you, to listening to you. It is what lets you speak truth into their lives. Social stock is one of the most powerful tools we have in relational ministry.
What is one thing you would make sure to tell a first time small group leader?