Home > Faith, Youth Workers > How to Fail at Small Groups

How to Fail at Small Groups

Discipleship Journal has a great resource out called “Best Small-Group Ideas“. There are lots of good things in it but one that I ran across today and realized I need to take another look at was how to fail at small groups (or house churches, discipleship groups, small communities or any other code you use for them!). Here’s the five they list in the book and it’s the five that many of us have probably experienced with at some point.

  • Lack of leader training or guidance
  • Lack of understood contract
  • Not taking time for relationships
  • Choosing lecture over discussion
  • Not knowing when to end

Lack of leader training or guidance – One of my strengths is seeing a vision and moving with it… which is great except that one of my weaknesses is communicating it well and giving enough support. I don’t think it’s possible to over communicate with leaders. Even if your vision is written down and followed by bullet points, communicating with leaders has to be a priority.  Even Jesus had to repeat things over and over again and his followers still didn’t get it sometimes. Now, if you are moving to a new style of ministry or trying to incorporate new elements into what you are already doing, it’s even more important to over communicate. In my ministry, I aim for high accountability and low control with my leaders but I didn’t communicate enough with them on what was expected of them and how to best get there.

Lack of understood contract – Have you ever wanted to get volunteers to help with the youth and asked for exactly that… volunteers to help with the youth? How well did that go? Asking for specific things like 4 parents to bring a dozen cookies each or 3 people willing to help two hours a week lead a small group on Sunday evening, can better get the results we are looking for.

Not taking time for relationships – I think this one goes hand in hand with the first one. I was reminded today that too often, we skip over the volunteers and head straight for the teens. Bad Idea… We can’t reach all the kids and it isn’t our show. Our role is to facilitate their growth and the mentors have many more relationships than we do. All that to say that regardless, we’re responsible for the outcome. If we don’t know where we’re going, we can’t lead them and they can’t facilitate youth. One more thing, not every conversation has to be about their role in the ministry. Take time to get to know them as people. What do they do? When did they meet? What are some of their favorites?

Choosing lecture over discussion – I think this one is fairly self-explanatory. We need to model what we want from them. If we want mentors or leaders to lecture then feel free to do the same. If we want them to lead and facilitate discussions, we need to model how that may look. When we get stressed or uncomfortable, we tend to revert to what we know. If what we know is lecturing then that’s what we’ll tend to fall back to.

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Categories: Faith, Youth Workers
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