Small Group Qualities

I’m not the best small group leader; yet, I enjoy them so much.  As a member of an adult small group it’s made me a better husband, father, son and child of God.  As a leader for a teenage boys small group it’s helped me stay young and think outside the box.  As a youth minister I’ve seen God at work in small groups as they mobilize the next generation.

I wasn’t always the biggest fan of small groups and that’s because I didn’t always have the best experience.  Certain groups that I attended were either too much like a social hour with friends, or a religion class.  There was a lack of tension between discipleship and fellowship.  It’s with that tension that real growth happens.  

In order to create life change, small groups need certain qualities that cultivate the tension.  While there are many positive characteristics, 4 I recommend every small group has are:

  • Authentic: Authenticity in a small group means that people are empowered to come as they are.  To get this it’s important to layout a policy of honesty, respect, and love.  One way to encourage authenticity is by having the group sign a covenant.  To be authentic means to be real.
  • Encouraging: In order for small groups to grow disciples it needs to encourage them in the journey of youth ministry.  This means getting to know each other personally.  This happens when a group shares life outside the designated program time.  To make this happen plan opportunities like mission trips, hiking or team building activities where the group can cheer one another on. 
  • Challenging: In a true small group not only is there authenticity, but accountability to speak truth.  This means calling out peers when they drop the ball.  Challenging them to take risks and ownership.  To create a challenging atmosphere encourage leaders to answer the question: “What do we want them (teenagers) to do?”
  • Messy: A teenager’s life is messy; therefore, so is youth ministry.  As a youth minister you are dealing with diseases, broken families and other forms of darkness.  A messy youth ministry is when adults are sitting with teens in the tension of life.  A small group deals with the mess through prayer.  A group that prays together will help one another through the darkest of times.

Small groups are powerful because each participant is surrounded by people who want to support them.  They are the opportunity to engage in the community and go deeper as a disciple.  With all that said it needs the right qualities. 


What qualities did I miss?  Please share.

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