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youth worker, youth ministry, small groups

Group Environment

By Doug Franklin August 9, 2011

I am writing this week about coaching small groups. I believe that youth ministry needs to up the game when it comes to small groups. Most youth ministries I visit have small groups but they are not effective. The main reason is the lead youth worker is not coaching the small group leaders (SGL). So how do you help a small group leader create an atmosphere of community and learning? This has always been the toughest part of being a small group leader. Getting students to care, listen, grow and still have fun! Here are just three ideas to help you coach your leaders:

1. Belonging
Students need to feel like they belong in a group. This is easy for girls; just make time for them to share. For boys this is tougher. I start by challenging my core, get-it boys to reach out to the other students in the group. This can’t come from the SGL; the students need to be the ones focused on reaching out.

2. Connection
Connection comes from feeling valued. Often value comes when someone else recognizes a key quality of character in your life. It’s important as the SGL to say often, “I see this _________ characteristic in you” or “I see God working in your life by _________.” These comments coming from the leader will connect them to the students. Saying just funny stuff will not. The people we connect with are the people that challenge us. A good rule of thumb is three touches a week for each student. If you can Facebook, call, text, meet in person, or write a card three times a week, it will make connection happen.

3. Excitement
Create some memories, make some legends. Do some activities with students that are awesome. When I was a jr. high small group leader I would get permission to have all night laser tag games in the church. Students would tell the stories for weeks. These kinds of activities will reinforce belonging and connection.

Youth workers need to coach our small group leaders and help them become effective. What are some ideas you have for helping small group leaders become more effective?

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More