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small group leader, youth ministry, student ministry

Small Group Leaders Start Here

By Cheryl Franklin Baertschi September 4, 2017

I remember the first time I signed on to be a small group leader at our church. I was given the list of names and, frankly, I had a lot of emotions running through my head. What have I signed up for? Who are these students? Will they like me? It turns out that my feelings were not much different than those of my students. I was a bit nervous, and so were they. They weren’t sure what to expect, and I don’t know that I knew fully what to expect either. As you prepare to welcome new small group leaders into your ministry this fall, encourage them to set their fears aside and dive into small groups with this game plan in mind.

“As you prepare to welcome new small group leaders into your ministry this fall, encourage them to set their fears aside and dive into small groups with this game plan in mind.”

Step 1: Pray

Challenge your volunteers to pray! Right now they have a list of names of a page, but you know that behind each name is a student with a story that matters. The more your leaders can understand students’ stories, the better they can connect with students and encourage them in their journey with Christ.

Step 2: Reach Out

Before the first youth group meeting, encourage your small group leaders to reach out to students via text or phone call. Have them communicate who they are and express that they’re looking forward to the first youth group meeting. This is a great opportunity to have small group leaders remind students of when that first meeting is!

Step 3: Get Information

At that first youth group meeting, prepare your small group leaders to discover all that they can about their students. Give them an index card for each student and have them take down the following information:

*Name (the one they like to be called)
*Cell phone number
*Parent’s names and phone numbers (This is a great opportunity to get this information!)
*Favorite candy
*Likes/Dislikes. Hobbies/Sports
*Places they might like to meet for a one-on- one. (Ex: coffee, ice cream)

I’ve always liked how Doug Franklin says, “The 4 Cries of a Student’s Heart are spend time with me, discover me, connect with me, pursue me!” The information on that index card is going to help your small group leaders meet these very important goals.

These three steps form the starting line for new small group leaders. Encourage them to pray, reach out, and discover basic information about each student in their small group. Be sure to check back out Part 2 of Small Group Leaders Start Here. I’ll give tips and tricks for what small group leaders should do next.


Checking the Spiritual Heartbeat of Students is a simple, one-page handout created to help you as a small group leader stay checked-in to your students on a weekly basis. It’s purpose is to help you establish a closer relationship with each student (especially with those quiet ones) and stay connected with where they are spiritually. In the handout, students will be prompted to share highs/lows of their week, prayer requests, and where they currently feel in their relationship with Christ. You can use it as a part of discussion and group sharing, or simply collect them for your personal knowledge.

duct tape water bottle mission trip hack

About the Author

Cheryl Franklin Baertschi

Cheryl Franklin Baertschi and her husband live in Carmel, Indiana and have raised 4 boys. After their youngest left the nest 6 years ago, she decided to fill the quiet house with high school and college age girls that she could encourage, mentor and disciple. She continues to learn daily from them.