Small groups ensure that no one feels excluded or forgotten, and provide a safe space for people to connect, share and process. How can we be sensitive and confident leaders of a small group?
Lord Jesus Christ, You call me to follow you. Help me to drop my nets and abide by You. I am one of your many disciples, committed to finding the ways that You strengthen my life. Touch my heart, enlighten my mind, stir my spirit. Teach me to share the fruits of our faith, and keep me by Your side. Amen.
In youth ministry it is easy to have a “Sermon on the Mount” mentality. In Matthew 5-7, we see Jesus giving a long series of teachings to a great number of people. Scripture doesn’t say that the people who were present become His most faithful disciples. The content of the Sermon on the Mount was important, however it wasn’t a once off or a series of teaching that formed the listeners at that time to become lifelong disciples. It was the small group of the twelve apostles who were most impacted by Jesus’ teaching and presence. They lived and spent the most time together.
Jesus’ small group ministry had the biggest impact on the world. In time, they grew into more small groups, and spread the Gospel message throughout the world.
“There’s an enormous difference between small-group facilitation, whose purpose is to catechise, and small-group discipleship, whose purpose is to mentor and meet pastoral needs.”
Everett Fritz, The Art of Forming Young Disciples
At any point in time, you may find yourself leading a small group. Although there are many practical things that you can learn to become a better facilitator and discipler to your small group, there are three essential traits to make you a better leader.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me…”
John 10:14 RSVCE
As a small group leader, you must know the individuals in your group, they are your flock. Likewise, they must know you and this will only happen if you lead with your heart and show that you genuinely care for them. When you do that and show your heart is in the group, your members will follow.
Many times in scriptures we find Jesus weeping, because he had compassion for the people he was serving. How do you see the people of your church or community? Or of the world at large?
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Matthew 9:36 RSVCE
Christ didn’t weep over buildings, fancy programs, or other material things. He felt compassion for people. We are also called to be a compassionate leader like Jesus.
What motivates you to run a small group? Is it the social aspect? Is it faith? Is it the program? Whether you are a leader or a participant in your small group, you have become one family in Christ, just like Jesus and the twelve apostles who grew and journeyed together. We are called to do the same with each other especially in our own small group.
As a leader you have been entrusted with other young people into your care. Although it is not your sole task to bring them to Christ, it must be your motivation to care for their very soul. It is always ‘discipleship over program’.
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