There are a ton of reasons small groups don’t work for people. It is easy to look at the group and point fingers at others but the best place to find some answers is to look closely at yourself. In my experience I’ve seen several attitudes that stop true community from forming in student small groups. I was able to share 4 of these pitfalls as a warning to students this week at our Life Group kickoff:

Just don’t say anything
This is the person who gets to group and refuses to say anything at all. He or she will not let ANYONE in or say ANYTHING. They will not be vulnerable and refuse to let someone in. They are simply putting in their time, or perhaps they were hurt in a previous group and don’t trust people out of the gate. Community can’t happen with that mindset.

The TMI guy
This is the classic “oversharer” the person who talks on and on about everything in their life. The person who refuses to stop talking about themselves, and redirects all of the conversations to cleverly make it about them. The person who won’t open up LOVES this person, so they can continue sitting on the sidelines of the group.

The 10% rule
This is the person who shares just enough to satisfy their leader – or shares enough of their story to get correction that doesn’t sting. They tell the story slanted to their perspective that favors them. Some choose to share just 10% – just enough to keep the conversation going without getting deep. Some share 90% – and leave out the last part to disguise the real problem or the severity of the issue.

Us vs. them
Community isn’t just you and your peers – it is a connection with your leaders as well. I was talking to one of our leaders this week who said “I think they would be surprised at what I would show up at if they just let me in.” Build then keep unity within your group. Students who deflect genuine community by attacking the leader never win. Community says we’re all in this together and rejects cliques and insiders/outsiders.

So what do we do?
1) Identify the walls and masks in your life
2) Make yourself vulnerable to the others in your group
3) Share … all of it
4) Lead others by your example and unity

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-12


Hey everyone from NYWC 2011!

Thanks for making our youth ministry workshop so fun this weekend — I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are the links from Every 7 Minutes: Keeping Students Engaged During Your Talk workshops I promised you today:


At the end of HSM’s recent Secrets series we played a wrap-up video that turned out pretty solid. I’m hoping this is an idea we can use for each series – that we end each series by emphasizing the whole arc of the teaching and pull it all together in one final message.


Secrets Week 1 Opening Video

Josh Griffin —  September 23, 2011 — 2 Comments

Here’s a sweet little video our team put together to help put into feelings/emotion what our students wrote when they shared their secrets. I used it at the beginning of the talk to help turn the corner from some fun into some pretty heavy stuff.


Weekend Teaching Series: Secrets (series premiere, week 1 of 2)
Sermon in a Sentence: Everyone has secrets and secrets make us sick, but there is hope.

Service Length: 73 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend was essentially our fall kickoff weekend – but without services last weekend, it was also the start of our first big series of the school year. We’ve been kicking around the idea of Secrets for a couple years now – didn’t know how students would respond and nothing could have prepared us for the students’ response this weekend. It was incredible! This first week of the series I concentratied the teaching around how secrets are universal, destructive but there is hope in Christ. We invited students to respond to the message by raising a hand for prayer, and then encouraged any student who wanted to come forward for prayer during the response song to have courage and come forward. This is definitely not in our church culture, but it ended up being something really special. So many students came forward and our volunteers were prepared to pray with them. As many as possible we directed to a time when we could meet together this week and specifically start to address the secret they shared. My main texts were Matthew 11 and 23 – a student testimony rounded out the talk as well.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had a great cover song opener, a replay of the Life Groups Win music video from last week, a funny song about secrets, and the real secrets of students made up into posters all over the entryway and auditorium. We also did a black-light object lesson that turned out super, too. Lots of student greeters, lots of volunteers, especially those helping out with The Landing (Celebrate Recovery for Students, which made for a perfect next step from this series).

Music Playlist: Dirty Little Secrets [All-American Rejects cover], He is Alive, Nothing Compares, God Above All, Hosanna, Grace

Favorite Moment: At the end of the 6:30pm Saturday night service, the student response was overwhelming. So many tears, so many secrets shared. It was incredible. Our service is usually just over an hour, and it was amazing to cross the 2-hour mark with students still sharing, praying and crying in the auditorium. Really, really moving weekend.

Up next: Secrets (week 2 of 2)