This is a rough transcript of Chad and I’s discussion on the podcast. I do not attempt a word for word transcript, but I try to interject key points and elaborate on Chad’s excellent thoughts for your benefit.
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Traditional small group training isn’t a bad thing, but we will have to exceed tradition to make caring leaders. What does traditional small group training look like?
Chad: I don’t think there’s enough training. Most small groups leaders are not trained enough. Some ministry’s have a once a year, once a quarter and small percentage have monthly training.
There are many models of small groups in a youth ministry context
- Sunday school
- break out application groups on Wednesdays
- landing small group
- recovery small group
Have you clearly identified you small groups purpose within the context of the overall youth ministry. We all have to land their first. If we do not know what a small group win is, how will leaders know what a win is?
If we do not know what success looks like, how can we train our small group leaders to succeed?
Traditional training looks like helping a leader navigate a 30/45 minute time slot. The next level of training requires us to look over the training topics over the past year and notice the topics we’ve been teaching on and what does this narrative say about what is on our hearts?
Note From Paul: This is great advice! Stop what you’re doing and make that list. What does this list reveal? Does what you’ve been teaching lead you to win you desire? Does your training match the values you want your small group leaders to have?
Typical training focuses on how to teach your lesson, how to prepare for your lesson, etc and this is not bad, it’s necessary, but you cannot expect that teaching on teaching tactics makes small group leaders more effective at creating more caring relationships. Teach on tactics, get tactics. Teach on caring, get caring.
How to teach a lesson is only part of caring. If you say defense wins championship but are always teaching offense, there is a disconnect between what you believe and what you are teaching.
When we say, “We want you to care about students”, I’m not sure we are clear about that and I’m not sure many youth pastors know what they are wanting when they ask this of their small group leaders.
Paul: I am picking up what you are laying down, Chad. While you were talking, I write word Becoming down. How are we, as youth pastors, becoming more caring towards our leaders? Are we spending time with them and are involved in their lives? Are we modeling to our small group leaders what a caring small group leader looks like.
Paul: What are some new ideas you’ve been thinking through when it comes to training small group leaders to become more caring.
Chad: A lot of the small groups I am talking about, the focus is seems to be disciples who make disciples, but as I look over my own life, I can’t point to single lesson where I can say, “I learned this from Rodney.” Real discipleship is through authentic relationships and this is what I remember about my grandfather, who just tight me through just siting on the couch with me and listened to me.
I think we think of caring in the context of hardship. If a kid goes through something we are there to care. Equally important are the moments where our kids are succeeding. Are we there when a kids comes off the stage from their first performance. Are we there when that kids is coming off the field with sweaty shoulder pads from their first game ? This makes all the difference and impacts the dynamics of the small groups our leaders lead.
The leader who spends time with students, outside the 30 minute meeting, gives the small group leader the permission to push hard with the questions they ask. Instead of asking a question and getting crickets, you can press a little more because you’ve spent the time in a kids world beyond the small group meeting.
Note from Paul: Look at your calendar? What is the next event one of your young people has? If there are no events on their, call your kids and ask there for their football schedule, the date of their play, their next band competition or science fair.
Chad: This is why having a great adult team is so important. If you, as a youth worker, are attempting to get into the world of all your kids, you are going to fail miserably. There will never be enough time.
Quick Tip from Chad: When I talk to youth workers, I encourage them to ask the churches they are applying to ask them what their expectations are. If that applicant does not think they can meet those expectation they should not take that job.
Quick Tip from Chad: Ask a kid for their football schedule and ask that kid, “Which is the most important game to you?” That’s the game you want to be at.
Quick Tip From Paul: When I would meet with my team, I would not go through a list of tasks to see if they were being done or not or busy work that needed to be done, I would say, “Tell me a story about you and student you’ve recently been trying to minister to.” If they tell me a story, that tells me they are getting it and are making time to get into a students world.
At this point, Chad tells three great stories of small group leaders who demonstrated care and have made an impact.
Note From Paul: Where can you ask a kid to be a part of your normal, every day life?
Note from Paul: If the story that Chad tells next does not have you rolling on the floor, you haven’t been doing youth ministry long enough.
What are some final tips for those who may be thinking about starting a small group ministry or have one and are thinking about revamping it?
First, make sure you know what your primary goal is for your small group.
Second, always build your small group leaders bigger than what you need it to be to accommodate growth, and to facilitate changes you need to make. Always build so you won’t get into a scrambling mode.
Note from Paul: In sports terms, I call this developing a strong bench. We are always in recruitment mode.
If you want to grow, how many kids can you effectively disciple? How many more leaders will you need to make sure all kids are being effecitvely discipled?
If you say, currently, we can effectively minister to 30 kids. My question would be, “What happens when the 31st kid walks in?”
Third, language is important. What are you telling your small group leaders you expect form them? If you are telling them that all you are asking is that they teach a class for 30 minutes on Sunday, that is all you will get.
If you cast vision of caring for the kids not only in this church, but in your community, those are the leaders you will attract.
Quick Tip From Chad: Cast vision to the leaders you want, personally and not leave it up to a bulletin announcement. Those are two different kinds of people. Invite people into what you want them to be and not just what you need.
I want to thank Chad for joining me on the show you can catch up with him at