So you want to start a small group? First off, awesome! You’ve completed the first big step already - by dreaming up the idea!
Why Small Groups Matter
The Bible consistently talks about how important it is to do life together with other believers. In our social media driven world, we are often more used to interacting through a screen than in real life, but those real life interactions are so key!
Aside from going to church regularly and finding a youth group to belong to, a small group is a pretty key part of your spiritual journey. There is something powerful about learning and praying together, and a small group allows you to do both of those and more.
1. Talk to Your Pastor
Once you’ve decided to take the leap, start thinking about how you will find people to come alongside you.
A great first step would be to connect with your youth pastor or pastor of your church if yours doesn’t have a youth pastor. Your youth pastor will probably be pretty pumped that you want to journey deeper into your faith and do it alongside other people. Even if your church or pastor doesn’t have the resources to officially partner with you, they will be happy to support you in prayer and guidance.
2. Decide Who It’s For
Once your pastor is on board, decide how you want your group to be made up!
Do you want to start a girls-only one? A group I’m a part of now is co-ed but we split off every week to pray with just the girls/guys. That could be an option if you don’t have enough girls to get started, although, really, a small group can be anything from 2-12 people. (If your youth pastor wants to get small groups going, then it would probably be a good idea to have them find a different leader for the guys.)
Do you want it to be a narrow age range, or open it up to a wider range, such as junior high, or high school, or just a certain grade?
3. Plan Out the Details
Alright, so let’s say your pastor is on board, and you’re going to get going with a girls small group. Try to figure out the best time to meet, and where - which might mean being creative.
*Could you meet at church and bring a supper to eat together before youth?
*After church over lunch?
*During lunch break at school?
*A weeknight at your house that works well for you and your family?
It also can be great if you can find a ‘Host’ home, so you can lead the group, but someone else can handle the details of hosting, putting out snacks etc.
Brainstorm with your parents and pastor when the best time to have your group will be.
4. Spread the Word
Once that’s done you can start to spread the word! Tell your friends and youth group about your small group and when you will meet. You can connect in person, make a Facebook group or Invite over email, send reminders by text, print out flyers, make announcements at youth…use any and every way to make sure people know what’s going on.
5. Something to Talk About
Last, but not least, think about the material you will study and the format. You have a lot of options for material! Some ideas are:
*Study along with the sermon series at your church or youth group.
*Go through a book of the Bible together
*Study a Christian book recommended by someone you trust
*Go through the girl365 material! Do the devotions separately and then meet to talk about the topic that week and pray together.
The main elements you want to have are *Bible, *Prayer and *Connecting which happens pretty naturally over prayer and spending time together talking.
It’s always great to arrange to have a snack (if you’re not meeting over a meal), and most people are happy to take a turn to bring a snack one week (don’t feel like it’s all on your shoulders). Food can help break the ice and give a fun element to the group. Eat and study together, and then take time to really pray together.
I love giving each girl in my small group a tiny notebook (from the dollar store) to keep track of thoughts or prayer requests. It’s pretty awesome to know people are praying for you during the week. It’s also easy to get a prayer thread going on your phone, or starting a secret Facebook group to do that as well. It’s really important to emphasize at the start of your group that all prayer requests are confidential (provided it’s not about someone getting hurt or hurting themselves), so that people feel open to sharing and being vulnerable.
Remember to enjoy yourself; this shouldn’t be a really stressful project. If you need help, make sure to ask your pastor or someone else in your group to give you a hand. Just know that you’re taking an awesome step of obedience by stepping out to lead and to grow with others. Keep things simple and enjoy the ride!