by Steve Cullum

Equipping and empowering adult small group leaders is the only way to significantly grow a sustainable youth ministry beyond yourself. This is a common thread I have encountered throughout my Bible college years, seminary and at The Orange Conference.

How does one actually do empower small group leaders when it comes to weekly youth gatherings?

I have found that it helps to train and equip our leaders in various formats. Due to the fact that everyone learns differently and has busy schedules it is important to figure out how to offer enough opportunities so every leader feels on the same page.

Quarterly Meetings.  It all starts with a quarterly meeting with our small group leaders. At our quarterly meeting, we assess our students — where they are and what they have been struggling with. Based on prayer and evaluation, we choose which XP3 series we should cover in the coming months. Since we select the series together, we are all on a similar page right from the beginning.

Monthly Meetings.  Our monthly meetings are a time where I really try to pour into our leaders. During these monthly meetings, we train our adult volunteers. For example, we may cover how to best deal with a student who dominates discussion time. We also will spend some time walking through the Bible together. This is usually connected with our upcoming series. I want them to feel as prepared as possible to lead the upcoming discussion times with their students.

Meet Right Before Youth Group Program. At these times, we spend 15-20 minutes talking through the evening and going over last-minute questions. I also make sure to spend a significant time in prayer with them each week. I want to make sure they feel cared for and loved in addition to well-equipped.  On top of our regular meetings, I provide all the small group resources at least a month ahead of time. I post the questions, lesson outlines, XP3 podcasts, and monthly XPs on a secure password-protected page on our student ministry website. This allows them to prepare ahead of time. I send out a weekly email and Facebook message reminding them to, at the very least, go over the small group questions and listen to the podcast.

While there may be additional ways to train and equip our leaders, these are what have worked well for our church. Please feel free to comment below on how you equip your small group leaders for upcoming XP3 series.

Steve Cullum currently serves as a student minister at Rockingham Christian Church in Salem, NH. You can connect with him via Twitter (@stevecullum), Facebook (, and his personal/ministry blog (

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