LeaderExpectations are super important between parents and small group leaders. A lot of the issues I’ve run into between parents and small group leaders has been about expectations not being met or unrealistic expectations being casted. In this post I’ve listed a few expectations parents should have of leaders and leaders should have of parents. Now, I would probably add more tactical stuff if the list called for it, but I really wanted to share things that are just sometimes implied but never said. It is important I communicate these implied expectations for clarity between leaders and parents.

What parents should expect of leaders:

  • Communicate – Communication is so important during the small group season. The leader that keeps their parents in the dark is looking for conflict. Parents need to know in advance of any possible changes to the group. They need to know if they are supposed to do something for a party or outing. Again, the more notice you can give them the better. Communicate!!!
  • Support – Parents need to know that your leaders are there to support in leading/mentoring/teaching their child. I use the word support because it’s really a partnership between the leader and the parents. We don’t want to strip the parent of the responsibility of spiritually leading their child. Now, there are some students where we will have to play that roll but we don’t want to make it a practice. We also want to support the student in life, which sometimes mean supporting the family. Whether that’s going to a game or walking with the family through a crisis.  Support!!!
  • Be another voice for the parents – As a leader I have a great opportunity to increase the influence of the parent as well as Christ in the student’s life. My role should be an extension of the parents regardless whether they are believers or not. I’ve personally seen God do amazing things in the lives of parents whose child has heeded the advice to honor their mother and father even though they are not believers. Be that external parental voice!!!
  • Be available – Now, when I say available I mean leaders should be reachable. Parents should be able to text, email or call and get a response, might not always be right away but days and days shouldn’t go by without a response. Not being reachable is another way to create unwanted conflict with a parent. The expectation should be 24 hours at the most. I’ve seen more drama start because the leader gets frustrated and decides they have a choice in whether they have to respond to a leader. Be available!!!

In order for your leaders to be successful you must expect your parents to do the following:

  • Reinforce leaders rules at group. – Parents need to know that they can help herd the cattle by helping their child take the structure and rules seriously. Example: I have a no cell phone policy at group. If they come home and complain just reinforce the rule because they are in place to help not hurt. You play a huge part in the respect your child have for their leader so know that they will have just as much respect for their leader as you do.
  • Have conversations about what’s being taught in life group. – Parents need to be in the conversation of what’s being taught. Whether you’re sending them the lesson or just some questions. I’m not saying parents need to get into a theological debate, but just an easy conversation about what their child is learning will make all the difference. I want my leaders to know that they are working with the parents and not the other way around. So we need to let parents know that we are expecting the stuff taught to be talked about at home.
  • Respect the leaders time. – Parents need to know that leaders aren’t paid. For some of your leaders, every hour they spend with a student is time spent away from their own family. So be on time dropping off and picking up. If the student is not going to be at group, let their leader know. Leaders see this time with students as ministry and vital. So parents need to make sure their child is missing group only when they really have to. Help parents respect your leaders time!!!

Implied rules and the phrase “you should know better” go hand in hand and is just a disaster waiting to happen. It may even sound silly sharing things people should already know, but you will be glad you did.

Two questions:

  1. Do you share expectations between parents and leaders?
  2. If so, what is some other implied expectations between parents and leaders that may need to be addressed?

hope it helps



LYR coverThere are some massive distinctions we need to make in ministry.  For instance, we need to make sure we recognize and live out the difference between:

  1. Teaching people about the ways of Jesus versus simply teaching them proper behaviors for Christians.
  2. Personal conviction versus religious legalism.  Those could not be more different, but they are easily confused.

These are the types of fine-lines I try and make clear in my forthcoming book, Losing Your Religion. My goal in writing this was to help readers realize just how much we personally blur lines such as these so that we can move toward freedom from the chains of religious behaviors.  The book is a journey of recognizing how we get off the path Jesus paved and recalibrating our ideas of Christianity so that we can get back on that path.  I wrote it because I’m growing in concern that many people (like me at one point) have embraced a behavior management system much more than they have the life Jesus has invited us into, but they have mistaken the one for the other.  And I think deep down we know something is off.  If we are honest, we tend to be driven by guilt and shame and often by a fear of man.  These are not Christian motivations, they are religious.  But unraveling this in our minds is difficult to do in a way that doesn’t bash the Church, but instead humbly honors God.  So it’s the latter I try to do in the book.

Well, the book doesn’t come out until November, but I thought I would list out a few distinctions that I unpack in the book between negative religion and Christianity.  There are obviously a ton more, but maybe these can be a help to you today in some fashion or form:

  1. Religion is lived for God whereas Christianity is lived because of God.  Religious ideas focus us on our actions, but the gospel is about our reactions to God’s actions. 
  2. Religion is expressed in/through what we do.  Christianity is expressed in/through why we do what we do.
  3. Religion emphasizes what we do whereas Christianity emphasizes what God has done and is doing through Jesus.

It’s one thing to list out these types of distinctions and agree with them.  It’s another to actually sift through it in our own lives on practical and often intimate levels.  This is the process that I hope the book brings people through.

– Chuck

•Small groups are messy. Really messy.
•Small groups are a logistical hassle. Meeting in homes only adds to the chaos.
•Small groups require lots of leaders.
•Small groups need constant attention and maintenance.
•In short…small groups can feel like a BIG pain.

But … small groups are totally worth it.

Here are 4 reasons why we think small groups are a big deal. Feel free to add your own (or a dissenting opinion) in the comments section:

Small groups help make invisible students visible
I (Josh) have 4 kids of my own – a couple of them are going to spend their lives being the center of attention and the other 2 are probably going to enjoy contributing on occasion but usually just fading into the background and allowing someone else to take center stage. Small groups put every student in a position to contribute and be challenged. A church that only gathers in the large group setting is encouraging only the faithful, vocal few to truly participate…others may attend, but very few participate. Small groups help make the typically invisible student a little more visible.

Small groups make any size church feel like home
It really doesn’t matter how big your youth ministry is – it is going to feel unwelcoming or even cold to some degree to an outsider. But when a student is invited into a small group… with only a handful of others it begins to feel warmer and more inviting. Personally, we love small groups in homes because this helps them feel even warmer.

Small groups create a youth pastor minor league
Looking to turn regular men and women into great youth workers? Give them a few seasons in small groups and you’ll be amazed at how their heart and their skills grow, and so will they! Small groups give plenty of opportunities for young leaders to shine. Instead of a personality-driven ministry , a strong small group strategy provides opportunities for lots and lots of youth pastors within one ministry.

Small groups produce Godly students
OK, this one isn’t guaranteed, but a small group environment does allow a great leader to be placed over, care for and disciple a handful of students. You can rest a little easier when a student gets connected in a small group – because you know they have a much better chance of their faith sticking because of the relationships that have been set in motion.

Do you think small groups are worth it? Why or why not?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Weekend Teaching Series: LAUNCH (series finale, week 3 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Get ready to go back to school by starting the habit of spending time with God every day – walk with Jesus.

Service Length: 72 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we want to send students back to school armed and prepared for each day ahead. The best way to live life is to walk with Jesus – so we challenged them to spend time with God everyday in His Word and in prayer. I challenged students to live out Proverbs 4: 20-27 and to pay attention to God’s Words so that they stay on the right path. I asked a couple students to help teach this weekend and they did a super job helping make spending time with God seem possible. It was important this week to make sure we went from ideological to practical, so we created 14 days of text devotionals (I’ll post them later this week) and gave away a TON of 1-Minute Bibles by Doug Fields.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We had a fun Life Group rap called “Life Groups Win” to promote the upcoming deadline for small groups, and had a funny tribute parody video to the “Footprints in the Sand” infamous Christian poem. Everything played well and for a holiday weekend attendance was up and so was the energy. Must be about time to go back to school!

Music Playlist: Our God, God Above All, Forever Reign, Burning Ones

Favorite Moment: This weekend I used 2 students to help me teach the talk this weekend – one was a senior and the other a sophomore. They did great! Seeing them teach was an incredible experience – made me think I should do that more often! Just picked out the next 2-3 who will do it in the future …

Up next: No HSM – 9/11 Memorial services in big church

Weekend Teaching Series: LAUNCH (week 2 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Accountability will make you uncomfortable but is critically important in the life of a believer … and join a Life Group this school year in HSM!

Understandable Message: This weekend Jessica Torres taught the second weekend in our LAUNCH back to school series. Every year about this time we want to intentionally move students toward life groups, so we intentionally plan a weekend to encourage students to go beyond the weekend service and jump into a group. Jessica taught specifically about the accountability aspect of groups and had great stories about the influence of both peers and adults in her formative years. She did a great job teaching these principles from Scripture.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we’re wrapping up summer and headed into Labor Day holiday and back to school next week. The atmosphere was great – we had a new student on lights who did an incredible job with the energy before the service and the team made a couple of great videos to point students toward Life Groups and to become a part of HSM. Lots of student greeters, too!

Music Playlist: Go, You’ll Come, Majesty, Let My Words Be Few

Favorite Moment: One of our students, Connor Kim, shared his testimony about the impact accountability and his Life Group have made on his high school years. He’s such a stud, it was awesome for students to see a real-life example of what Jessica was teaching from the stage. Between her heart and his experience, I know tons of students will take this next step in our discipleship process. Strong.

Up next: LAUNCH (series finale, week 3 of 3)

I’m pretty sure that baptisms are my favorite part of doing ministry. This weekend we talked about the who, what, why and when of baptism, with live baptisms after each service. So much fun and so powerful. The video (above) is of one of our seniors, Shane, getting baptized after the service. Love the small group moment at the end, too.

Here’s an excerpt from a note he left on my Facebook wall, too:

“my main man at the big S.C. haha thanks for baptizing me. it was kinda a leap of faith because i wasn’t planing on getting baptized until you said everyone come u who wants to be baptized. but i just knew it was the right time. and going first was no easy way to help my nervousness. hahah :) i was freaking out. i am gonna miss you next year buddy.