How important are small groups in student ministry – well, I think it is so important that Im not sure it can be measured or articulated in a short while. So, whether you are the youth pastor, small group leader or potential volunteer candidate, I want to share with you a dozen benefits teenagers receive from the ministry of small group leaders:
1. They have another significant adult caring about what they do and the decisions they make. I once heard Psychologist Dr. James Dobson report that 40% of kids are born into homes with no father to mentor them, correct them or cheer them on and that every ado adolescent needs a “significant other” adult willing to journey with them for the sake of what I call the THREE “C”s Challenging, Correcting and Cheering.
2. Youth receive weekly encouragement to grow spiritually from someone other than mom or dad. Let’s face it, there is only so much mom and dad can say and only so long it will be heard before the ears of a teenager become supersaturated with the do’s and donts during adolescent development. Small group leaders bridge that gap for parents and in the cases where spiritual parenting and modeling is absent, the gap they fill is quite significant!
3. Small group leaders provide an important support beam when hurricane force winds blow through the life of a teen. An invested connected parent and youth leader simply cannot meet the needs of enough students – they need help from committed small group leaders.
4. Youth receive an encouraging word or a smiling face at sporting events or other type activities. A caring presence from non-relatives is a KEY player in keeping them on the right side of the road or correcting their actions when needed.
5. Youth get to connect with an adult who is truly excited to see them at church.
6. Youth are NOTICED when they are not present in small group and they respond positively when they realized their presence is NOT Incidental or taken for granted.
7. Students benefit from of the voice of affirmation – whether a text, tweet, facebook, phone message or old fashioned snail mail note – they cant help but know invested small group leaders care and will not give up on them.
8. Students need a “neutral adult” for practical life issues – being too close to the situation makes a parent vulnerable to emotional rule. A small group leader can support the parents from one step outside the boxing ring.
9. Only in small group can a student find the connection deep enough to have a SAFE place or person in time of need.
10. Youth are accounted for in small group – from a practical management side, they are noticed when present and when not present. Small group leaders provide the ultimate management system for the youth ministry.
11. Only in small group can spiritual truths be planted using the highest retention rate methods. Its these teaching methods that provide future Holy spirit recall moments.
I love my kids and no matter how old they get, they will still be my kids, but they were blessed beyond measure to have caring, trained adults who coached them along in small group strengthening what my wife and I wanted them to grasp. If you want your students to become fully devoted followers of Christ INVEST in small group and small group leaders.