I got to have lunch with one of our new small group leaders recently and he asked me about some of the tricks that I had learned during my time leading a small group. Despite me only having 3 years of small group experience, I realized that I have learned a lot in that time. Here are a few of the tips that really stuck out for him:

Journals
This is an awesome idea that I got from a pastor in Virginia. It is essentially a “pass-book.” In it, the student has the freedom to write whatever they want to their leader. Be prepared for anything! I’ve gotten pictures of dinosaurs, movie reviews, knock-knock jokes, and much MUCH more! But I’ve also gotten students to open up about school frustrations and family troubles. The cool thing is that the leader collects these books at the end of every meeting so that they can read them and write back to them. I love the ministry that I have been able to do through the use of those journals. Sometimes, it can be hard to give each student the “one-on-one” time that they deserve, so this is an awesome way to give each student individual attention every week!

Traditions
Traditions have been so key to the bonding that I have seen in my small group. Have your leaders be on the look out for things that would be fun and unique for their group to do. One of the biggest traditions for my group is our once-a-year “let’s talk about sex” party. Being a guys small group, sex is a topic that gets brought up weekly, but we make sure to take out a week or two out of the year to focus specifically on sex and purity. I go all out for this party. I make decorate the room (I usually wait until the Valentine’s stuff goes on sale), I make sure there is plenty of food, and I even bake a cake. It is super fun and my guys look forward to it every year. Encourage your leaders to find their group’s tradition!

Serving
For some this might seem like a given, but there are too many small groups out there that aren’t serving together. Serving is super important not only for the awesome bonding that is provides, but because the Bible calls the Church to be serving. Serving is a great way to mix up the traditional 30 minute lesson and allows students to be practicing what they have been learning. It also deepens relationships in the group. It is crazy to see the difference a service project can make to a groups chemistry and health! Try to provide your small group leaders with information on upcoming service opportunities that they can be taking their groups on!

What are some small group tips that you have?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.