While there will always be challenges, hardships & areas that need constant improvement in youth ministry, God is always on the move & doing something great in students lives! It’s soooo important to give God glory by celebrating the victories! One of these victories for our youth ministry has been the exponential growth we have seen in our primary small groups called “Elevate,” which meet on Sunday mornings during our 10am worship service. We have seen these small groups
double in size in the last 6 months! Most important though, is the spiritual growth we are seeing in our students as they hear God’s Word & learn how to pray. Here are the 6 key elements we have implemented…
1 Food – Acts 2:46
You can’t have a Christian gathering without food right? How much more for teenagers who walk in half asleep in the morning?! Therefore, we provide sugary morsels to help kick-start their systems & show them we care by creating a hospitable atmosphere.
I imagine that as Jesus held the little children on his lap, that he also had some fun with them! As students begin to wake up & straggle in late, we help “Break the ice” by playing a crazy game to help them get their blood flowing & get them laughing (MS Specific). After a quick game, one of our leaders will lead the group in a “Get-2-know-ya” activity where everyone shares their name & answers a crazy question like “What would your perfect day look like?” This helps set the tone for “Interaction” & gets students ready to share in small groups later.
3 Illustrative Teaching – Matthew 13:3
We know that Jesus often used parables (Stories), to convey profound truths in simple ways so that people could understand. This is especially key on Sunday mornings when students are tired and still waking up! To convey the profound truth, we package it in a simple way by sharing a short 10-15 teaching using a creative illustration that captures their attention & prepares them to engage in their small groups later.
Jesus spent most his time during his 3 year ministry equipping a small group of leaders. This paid huge dividends as they turned the world upside down after Jesus’ ascension! Leaders begin to “Own” the youth ministry when we move them from spectators or “Helpers,” to participants as we delegate authority to them. We ask all of our interns to serve Sunday mornings at “Elevate” & have trained them how to effectively lead a small-group discussion. They are emailed the discussion guide in advance & are given the freedom to add their own touches to it. Leaders also grow spiritually when we empower them like this because now they are at home studying the Word & praying for God to move in their small group!
5 Community – Acts 2:44
Many students are in boring class-rooms all week where teachers instruct them on various topics that dis-interest them! God forbid that our small group gatherings – where we are sharing the greatest news in the history of the universe – be boring, dry or un-interesting! Therefore, after students have had a donut, played a game, shared their name & heard a captivating teaching – we divide them into small groups for the remainder of the gathering! These small groups are gender & age specific & are led by our adult youth leaders! In these small-groups, community is built as students connect with each-other & their leaders on a much deeper relational level, which in-turn helps them to feel safe enough to read the Bible together, answer questions & apply it to their own life!
Prayer can be intimidating to some students, but if we desire students to grow in their walk with Christ this is a perfect setting to help teach them to pray. As we emphasize how amazing prayer is and how God really does hear us and respond to our cries, we are seeing students open up, pray & believe God for an answer! Our leaders start prayer by asking everyone to share something awesome that God has done in their life recently & then share a prayer need they have. Then each student prays for the person on their right & for God to work in the situation that person shared. Just in the last few weeks, we have seen students opening up & even confessing sin to one-another! Praise God! – Derek & Julie