I often hear people say that they can’t have a Youth Group because they only have a handful of students in their church. When we started out with our Youth Ministry we started as a connect group, and we had ten or less students on a night. And it was AWESOME. So I was thinking about made it awesome, not just for us but for our students too. And today I’ve got 4 keys to having a rockin’ youth ministry with ten or less students to share:
Start with who’s in your hand.
Even if that is one kid. Start with that one kid. Remember the parable Jesus told about the talents? Treasure those you’ve been entrusted with now. Invest in them. Build relationship and encourage them. And God will grow them. I believe that you have to look after what you’ve already been given if you want more. Start by gathering those already in your church and investing in them.
Meet in your home.
I highly recommend doing this if you can. It’s much easier to make a home feel warm and welcoming than a room in a church building, in my opinion. When you don’t have many people you don’t need much space to make the room feel full, either. Meeting at home is waaaay more personal too- perfect for building relationships. And saves you having to find a babysitter if you have kids!
Bonus tip: home baking is always a winner with teenagers!
Ask them what they want to do.
This is great for two reasons: 1) you’re being relevant by discussing topics and playing games your students actually want to, and 2) it gets them involved in the planning and helps them to take ownership of it. On the very first night we met we had a stack of pens and paper available and got everyone to write down any questions they had, topics they wanted to talk about or study, games or activities they love or want to try, even food they wanted to eat! Having this information makes planning a breeze. You will probably also start to discover the passions and interests and strengths of your group through this process too.
Don’t focus on numbers.
And don’t focus on who’s not there either. In the Bible (here, here, and here specifically) Jesus highlighted the importance of the One. If only one person turns up see it as an awesome opportunity to love on them and build that relationship. They have your whole attention! Don’t waste it. When you focus on numbers, the message it send to those that do show up is that you don’t value individuals, only the crowds. Don’t be like that. Value the One.
And just to finish off..
I asked our students what they liked about starting Youth as a connect group in our home. They all LOVED the space it gave them to build relationships. I hope you find their words encouraging! Here’s the exact words they used:
“I really enjoyed the relaxed environment – and being in a smaller group actually helped us to form stronger friendships I reckon”.
“The smaller amount of people the better friendship you make between each other”.
“I enjoyed it because it was more talking together and making friends and everyone knew each other and we had more small group discussions where everyone could be included and not be like shy because there’s a lot of people”.
“I liked that it was close and personal, it was a safe place where you could be yourself… plus it was lots of fun”.