Seeding a small group

One of the problems we face as an affluent city church is that people are only willing to give our program a limited amount of time-- when we look at our calendar, we frequently make compromises on what we'd like to accomplish with each event based on how much tim we believe people will give. This isn't an ideal way to do youth ministry, but not every event can be a three-day retreat. And the underlying issue is material for a whole other post.

It also points the way to one of my larger goals, which is to have most of our events serve to whet the appetite for small cell groups that meet for longer periods and bond together for accountability, Bible study, service, etc. The quote I'll borrow from Rev. Heather is "Like salt, [they are] intended to make the student thirsty."

Thanks to a number of people I've worked with in the past six years, we'll start up our small group ministry this fall with the following strategy. I could use some ideas on tweaking it, if you have any thoughts:

Two personally invited groups begin the process, one of students and one of adults. In fact, there will probably be two student groups and an adult group, because I have one natural group (this year's mission trip kids) who are already somewhat bonded, and another set of kids who have been asking for a small-group study. These groups will serve two purposes-- to give us success stories and faces to connect to when we begin forming additional groups; and to teach their members how to lead groups, so they can serve as guides if that's their calling.

All groups will begin with a six-week commitment, enough time to work through the first unit of the curriculum we're using, but not an intimidating amount of time that will sap the energy of the group. At the end of the six weeks, they'll renew and be able to help structure the group for the future.

The groups will use a curriculum to spark discussion and give structure to the setup, because we're not in this just randomly. At the same time, we're building lifelong relationships, not just info-dumping, so we'll be dynamic enough to deal with members who bring questions, issues, problems in need of solving.

The group members will decide their schedule together, choose and set up their space, provide snackitude, and rotate responsibilities within the group to train their discipline and leadership.

Once they're self-directed, the small groups will still have the youth minister's support (by that guy regularly attending each group on a rotating schedule, with other adults) and be connected to the other small groups (via several times a year dinners/social events/worship nights) and to the life of the whole church (picking ministries/projects to be part of.)

That's the layout-- go on, kick the tires, poke at it, let me know where we need bettering!

No comments: