If there’s one thing that can truly make or break the potential impact of your student ministry, it’s your small groups. The environment, the games, the music, the message… It all pales in comparison to the life-changing potential that a small group can have in the life of a student. So, if everything hinges on what happens in small group, it makes sense to do everything possible to set small group leaders up for success when he or she takes their students to group. This is especially true for new leaders. That’s why we’ve compiled a few helpful tips for you as you prepare new small group leaders for success this year. These tips were compiled from members in our brand new XP3 Partners Facebook Group. If you’re an XP3 subscriber, you will definitely want to request to join the group! Here are the tips for new small group leaders that our XP3 Partners group came up with…

Paul offered several tips…

  • Relationships trump content in the beginning.
  • Start where your group is, not where your hopes or expectations are.
  • Do things outside of the group, especially early on.
  • Pray before, during, with and after your groups.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Follow up during the week between meetings.
  • Sometimes your plan needs to be chucked for the group to have fun, especially in middle school.

Kyle offered three pieces of advice…

  • Let silence rule the air. 20 seconds is not too long to sit in silence. At 30 seconds, I consider rephrasing the question.
  • Time is king. Your small group may not be close right now, but they will be. Effort on the SGL’s part will be reciprocated.
  • Don’t be afraid to follow rabbit trails. Sometimes, our junior high boys relate a lesson better to Xbox than they do to the imagery your teacher did. Chase those thought processes, but herd the cats back into your goal areas.

Brett said,

Don’t grade yourself too quickly. It takes time & what might feel like failure early on in the group are just growing pains or a foundation being laid. Take every small win & celebrate it.

Branden said,

My small groups who have the greatest success, start their own Facebook group and do retreats together.

Buck offered this advice…

I let them know that they will have “THAT DAY” when no one listens and nothing goes right. It happens to all of us when it happens to you, just know that you aren’t a failure, and God’s still using you even on those days. It gives them room to not be perfect. When it comes they usually come up to me and say today was that day you told me about, but it was ok cause you told me it was coming.

Jim recommends having…

Clear expectations/goals from our staff and plenty of space for follow up/feedback from them.

Eric offers a tip consistent with Lead Small…

Be present. That’s the best thing they can do for their group. Be present. On Wednesday, on Sunday, and randomly. I also tell them that sometimes the best answer to a question is, “I don’t know.” Students of this generation are looking for someone who doesn’t come across as having all the answers or seem like they have it all together.

Finally, Carol gives us two important things for new small group leaders to remember:

  • Number 1: Remember that relationships matter most! Lessons are great, but getting through the questions is not top priority. Giving [students] space to express what is going on in their lives right now builds trust and allows leaders to gauge what questions to push and what questions to skip or not take a lot of time on.
  • Number 2: Ask questions and let them explore the answers. Do the least of the talking.

Setting up your small group leaders for success is one of the greatest ways you can spend your time as a ministry leader. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why XP3 exists. We do what we do so that you have more time to do what only you can do: prepare and equip your leaders for great small groups.

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