As part of our study nights we often break into small groups for some discussion time. As our Youth grows we need to break into more and more groups to keep them small, meaning we need to raise up leaders to lead new groups, even if they are still teenagers themselves. We believe teens are not too young to lead and that they can bring something amazing to small group dynamics as leaders.
These are tips for running epic youth small groups as part of your Youth night, as opposed to a separate connect group. Here’s how you can raise up leaders for your own youth small groups, too.
Prep your leaders in advance.
Not many people like being put on the spot, your leaders included. Take some time before your Youth starts either on the night (or even better, earlier in the week) to give your leaders a quick run through of what you want them to do. If you have a worksheet prepared, read through it together and give them the opportunity to ask questions about it. Let them know you will be available to help them out if they need it, too.
Do your homework.
Don’t turn up on the night empty-handed. Prepare a set of discussion points for your leaders and have them all written down. Prepare a worksheet for your students as well if necessary. I’d even recommend getting this info out to your leaders the week before, too.
Trust them to do it well.
Don’t be a helicopter-leader hovering over your student leaders as they are leading their small group. Chances are you will put them off and inhibit the flow of conversation in the group. Once you’ve delegated a leader to run a group and prepped them on the topic, trust them to run with it.
Having said that, if your student leaders do need a hand to explain a question or illustration to the group don’t leave them hanging. Help them out, and once the problem has been solved, move on.
You’ll have a more epic level of discussion when there are no distractions. If your students are anything like ours, chances are they’ll love checking out stuff on their phones during Youth. During small group time ask that each person has their phone off, or have a rule that all phones go under the chairs until they’re finished. Also if you have background music on, keep it low volume and low key so it doesn’t become a distraction either.
Get instant feedback.
Ask your student leaders for their feedback as soon as you have an opportunity. Were they confortable leading a group that size? Were the other students engaged in the conversation? Did the conversation stay on topic ok? Was there anything they would have done differently? Would they like to lead a small group again? Take note of what went well for your leaders and what they felt could be improved.
Run a workshop.
It’s always good to have a proper leader training so everyone’s on the same page and you know your students each have the skills to lead a small group. You can answer any queries you received as feedback as part of a workshop, too. Depending how often you run small groups as part of your Youth nights and how often you add new leaders to your group, once or twice a year should be plenty. We are planning this for one of our next D Group meetings.
- Do you run small groups as part of your Youth nights? Are they student-led or run by adults?
- What are your thoughts on student-led small groups at Youth?