Our high school ministry does really well with funny videos and usually comes up with some pretty strong programming bits for our youth group services. What I like about this video is that is sets up the students’ sharing time so well. Good stuff!

JG

Here’s a little video made to help support the message of the Life Groups: STORIES weekend. Good, clean promotion and shows the impact a great leader and group can have on your life!

JG



stories_life_groups

Weekend Teaching Series: Life Group: STORIES (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence: Real-life stories where Christian Community makes a huge difference.
Service Length: 68 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we continued a regular 1-off we do on occasion called STORIES. Students share their life and faith on stage in front of their peers – the idea started a couple years ago and has been so successful we now have a Stories weekend every 4-5 months. This time the stories all focused on the power of Christian community, and we tied it into a mid-year push to join a Life Group as well. Really powerful stories of how God has used students, leaders and groups for His glory!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This week the program was very straightforward – lots of student stories, some strong video content and great music. Not a whole lot of extra programming, but really well put together and powerful.

Music Playlist: Break Free, Always, Grace, Everything, Christ in Me

Favorite Moment: I loved the last song and how it tied into the message so well. “Let my story lift you high.” So strong – LOVE it when students share their faith on stage.

Up next: You Are Here [What On Earth Am I Here For? Campaign] (series premiere, week 1 of 6)


Andrew suggested this week’s poll question: when and where do your small groups meet? Would love to know what you’re doing and help others get an idea about what’s out there, too! In my current ministry we have small groups during the week, unattached to a program. How about you? Vote now!

JG



Why Small Groups Last

 —  December 20, 2012 — 1 Comment

As my small group of high school guys entered into their junior year of high school I remember feeling a little anxiety.  Typically this is the year that small groups are tested because of the amount of distractions and obstacles the students face.  Teens are beginning to think about college, and classes are more intense.  For many of them they are making the varsity team which means a different commitment.  Some of them are looking to get their driver’s license, which means they have a little more freedom and a little less accountability to show up from their parents.  As the teens get older, their commitment to the group is tested.

But, there are those groups that last.  There are those groups that not only stay strong; but, withstand the transitions of seasons.  Why is that?  Is it the leader? The teens?  While those are huge factors there are a few steps every leader should take to ensure their small groups last through the years.  Those steps are:

Communicating Consistently – Your group needs to hear your voice more than just at the weekly gatherings.  Check-in with them during the week.  Talk with their parents.  Make your relationship with them consistent.  Communicating consistently helps you become a regular voice in their life.  Whether it’s an invitation to join group each week or a shout out on Twitter, letting them know you’re invested will go far.

Meeting Outside The Usual – On top of your weekly gatherings try to get together for a mission project or fellowship gathering.  It’s easy to forget how hard it is for these teens to find healthy social opportunities.  By getting them together outside of the small group you turn it from a “church” thing into a life group.

Connecting One On One – It might be a challenge, but when you can meet one on one with your teens you begin to understand the dynamics of the group.  This helps you lead discussions in your group in a way that promotes depth.  The teens will feel like you know them personally because of your private conversations.  It will encourage them to open up in ways they couldn’t have before.

Setting Goals And Vision – Every church needs goals and vision.  Doesn’t matter if it’s thousands of people or half a dozen, without vision the people will perish.  Your small group needs goals and vision to grow and go deeper.  It allows the group to go from a social hour into something lasting.

Leading a small group is an investment.  It will be tested; however, by getting to know each individual and challenging them with different opportunities, the group will strengthen.

How do you strengthen your small groups?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

Was digging through some old files on our student ministry archives, and found this simple gem on how to pray for your small group leaders. Not sure who to credit (probably Matt McGill or Doug Fields). Good stuff here:

  • Put a couple calendar reminders for each day of your week as a reminder to pray for your small group leaders. (i.e. I pray for Bob and Jim on Tuesdays, Sue and Sammy on Wednesdays, etc,)
  • Look up the list of students in their small group and pray for each of them by name.
  • Pray for something very specific to happen with their small group. Send them an email letting them know about your prayer.
  • Put a post-it on your dashboard with one leader’s name and every time you get in your car to drive to work or small group…pray for that leader. Change it each week.
  • Write a letter to God on a postcard that is a prayer for that small group leader and send it to them in the mail.

JG



This week we’re going to focus on some of the best practices of youth ministry nationwide and hope that it generates some helpful conversation as you agree, disagree or have no opinion either way! Right up front we want to let you know that there is no PERFECT way to do youth ministry; our hope is that you prayerfully consider your context and determine what would and wouldn’t work in the ministry you lead.

BEST PRACTICE: Dividing up junior high and high school students.
There is simply too much difference between a 12-year-old 7th grader and an 18-year-old graduating senior—specifically, the developmental differences. Plus, on a practical note, keeping them separate gives the junior highers something to look forward to. Having said all that, there are some incredible opportunities when you keep these groups together. The older students can disciple and model what younger students can become over the next few years.

QUESTIONS:
• Do you have separate ministries for junior and senior high?
• Why or why not?
• What are other pros and cons of dividing up these age groups?
• What would happen if you made the switch?

BEST PRACTICE: Small groups being the primary method of discipleship and fellowship.
Most youth groups meet once a week for a large-group time of celebration, fun, and worship; and then either as part of that gathering, or at another time during the week, divide up into small groups for fellowship and discipleship. The overwhelming model has been for groups to work through a curriculum and also share life and Christian community together.

QUESTIONS:
• Does your church have small groups, Sunday school, or just large group times?
• Why have you chosen this strategy?
• What is the weakness of this model?
• Sunday school used to be invincible; now it has largely been replaced by small groups. What’s next?

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.

Doesn’t matter if my small group is 6 in the morning or 6 at night, when I’m leaving I’m feeling empowered and refreshed.  Doesn’t matter if a meeting is 6 in the morning or 6 at night, when I’m leaving I can feel drained and stressed.  When you think about it, small groups are a lot like a meeting in the sense that:

  • It’s A Group Of People 
  • There Is A Leader 
  • There Is A Subject Driving The Conversation

So, why is one resented and the other embraced?

The intention of going into a small group is to build one another up.  In a meeting while there are goals to accomplish, they can easily become battlefields that tear one another down.  While confrontation and tension can be healthy, if your meetings took a page out of the small group handbook, people could leave a little more refreshed than defeated.

To make your meeting like a small group, make sure you:

  • PRAY TOGETHER: You probably start a meeting out with prayer; however, do not rush through it.  Feel free to sit in the silence, to ask God to send down the Spirit through the conversations.  Ask God to open hearts and minds to new ideas.  Just hand it over to Him, let God lead your meetings.
  • SHARE LIFE TOGETHER:  Just as you use the scripture, questions and teaching to drive your groups conversation, develop an agenda that does the same.  When you put together the small group curriculum it’s important to consider the flow of questions and scripture.  It will create a mood and bring people to certain conclusions.  The topics on your meeting’s agenda will do the same.  There will be times when you will have to hold off on a topic because of the tension in the room.  There will be other times when another item will need more attention because of the weight it holds.  Don’t just throw the agenda together, pray over it and allow it to move the conversation.
  • CHALLENGE EACH OTHER:A healthy small group not only has time for information and discussion; but, time for application and challenge.  In a meeting the application to the information you discussed is called an action step.  When you leave a small group you should feel commissioned to resolve and test the conversation you shared.  In a meeting it’s pointless to just discuss items and not walk away with a plan.
  • PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER: Whether the conversation is positive or negative you’ve just endured spiritual battle in your small group.  Before you head off in the world it’s important for a small group to pray for one another.  In a meeting the action steps that have been delegated are going to face adversity and obstacles.  If you can pray for the people in your meeting, then you are giving them the comfort that they are not facing their responsibilities alone.

Granted not all meetings are as thorough as a small group.  Sometimes you just need to check-in and move out.  Next time you are planning that big meeting and preparing the agenda, take the time to discern the emotional and spiritual journey it will take the group on.  If you approach that meeting like a small group, you’ll help your team leave empowered to take on the obstacles outside the organization instead of defeated to take on the obstacles within the team.

How do you ensure people leave meetings feeling motivated?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)