I am working on a presentation that focuses on small group ministry and to start I thought I would list what I thought made a good small group. It’s one thing to invite parishes to do small group ministry but sending them on their way without a map could actually do more harm then good. Many times I see people on retreats that give a talk and then tell people to just break up and discuss the themes of the talk without any prep. This can be incredibly ineffective. So enjoy the basic checklist I came up with to measure some of the most important components of a healthy small group.
1. A Committed Leader with A Heart for God
Young long for those who care. We show we care by always being there. Your small group leader in any situation is a better fit if it is someone that desires to be by their side for the long run. The leader’s desire to serve as a leader should come from the fruits of the relationship they have with God and a desire the share that love.
2. Faithful Youth
The more faithful the youth are, the deeper you will be able to go with them. Be sure to set your groups up so accountability is there and they will be missed!
3. Safe Environment
Many youth will simply not come back if they do not feel like they can talk openly about what is going on. Encourage an atmosphere where youth feel welcome, accepted, and listened to.
When people ask your youth what they do in small group, what do they say? Have a very specific mission and vision for your group. For example, the leader might say each meeting “we meet in a small group regularly to pray in community with one another and to grow in our faith.” Have something short and sweet that you can use as the foundation to lead each meeting and determine whether each meeting was a success or not.
5. Comfortable Environment
There are some things that youth just need to keep them by your side. Have comfy seats, snacks, music and good lighting (to name a few). If you are meeting in a home environment, be careful of distractions of others in the house.
6. Road Map
You know why you meet, but where do you want to go? A systematic approach to your meetings will help you see the path you are making and set goals for where you want to be at any given time. Each meeting should leave the youth knowing at least one thing and be challenged to live out their faith in at lease one new way. Have those determined before you meet. If you meet that goal, great! If you find that you didn’t but know they left with so much more, also great! Just be careful not to make excuses and be honest about each meeting.
7. Engage Everyone
Some youth will open up without any pressure. Be sure to consistently invite every person to not just be present, but to be involved and engaged. One goal of the small group leader should be to discover at least one new thing revealed to them by each youth in the group before the meeting is over. What is one thing I learned about “Sam” that I didn’t know before?
8. Ask Good Questions
This goes along with the revelation I spoke of in the previous point. Figure out and write out questions before you meet that are designed to open the heart and mind of each person in the group. Ask questions that cause them to think and reflect and most importantly, discover God.
I will definitely be picking these apart a bit more in the future. Have any more? Please include them in the comments section below!
Photo courtesy of buttongirl on Flickr