Youth Ministry Small Group Management

By Doug Franklin June 24, 2022

In the first small group I led, I made a large square out of duct tape on the floor. If one of my jr.
high boys could move me out of the square, by any means possible, then that boy would be
crowned champion. Needless to say, we didn’t spend much time on Bible study, prayer, or
building deep relationships. In my youth ministry journey, I call this the WrestleMania years.

The boys loved me, and we had an awesome time together, but we never focused on what was
important until the month of May, when another adult volunteer challenged me to share Christ
with my boys every time we met for a month. I took that challenge and to my shame, a couple
of boys accepted Jesus. Praise God, he still works even though I was lazy. After that I pulled up
the tape and started getting serious about small group.

Small group management is tricky and requires a delicate balance of fun, focus, and
accountability. When I wised up, I would tell my boys that we were going to have more fun than
they could imagine but when we were focused on God, we would give him our full attention.
With jr. high boys I had to say this many times.

This is how I managed to balance it all:


When I was with my boys, they had my full attention, and I looked for ways to make every
moment count. I came through on the fun promise. I was creative, and we did lots of activities
outside of youth group. They knew I was serious about fun.


I was prepared to share God’s Word. When we were in the circle (meaning during Bible study,
Sunday school, or prayer time), I was ready with illustrations, personal stories, or interesting
facts that jr. high boys would think were cool. No question was ignored, and everyone was
given a chance to share. By being passionate about Scripture, students got interested.


I would challenge my boys to make applications from our Bible study, and I would communicate
encouragement for them to follow through and complete the application. When they
completed an application, it was time to celebrate and if they didn’t, I would give them another
opportunity. I was in it with them, but I would never, ever let them off the hook. Follow
through with jr. high boys works; giving them a free pass will never work.

I found that managing a small group takes lots of time and focus. Just showing up didn’t work. If
you are leading a small group, bring the fun, focus, and accountability and watch God work.

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