Small groups, connect groups, growth groups – these pairings of leaders with kids form a critical component of the discipleship strategy for any children’s ministry.
As a result, our ministries are most often driven around the need to invite, inspire and equip individuals to fill a role we are all familiar with – the role of Small Group Leader.
But what if what we’re looking for isn’t Small Group Leaders at all? Here are three reasons why you don’t need Small Group Leaders in your ministry:
The job title doesn’t fit the job
When we think of small group, we primarily think of the time in our programming when kids sit in tight-knit circles with one or two adults, exploring Scripture and unpacking what they’ve heard taught that day.
So, when we invite someone to join our ministry as a Small Group Leader, do we tell them, “Your role will be to lead a small group in discussion and prayer. Don’t worry about everything else!”?
Of course not!
In my ministry context, we look for our leaders to be fully engaged in every aspect of our programming – whether it’s leading their group to participate in worship, playing games alongside them, or engaging them in discussion.
I avoid using the term Small Group Leader, because there’s a world of difference between being a Small Group Leader (whose scope is inherently limited by the title) and leading a small group!
It elevates small groups above all else
There’s no doubt that relationship-building is critical in children’s ministry, and small groups are an effective approach to building those relationships. However, there is a range of other areas in our ministries that are as equally important to accomplishing our mission.
By emphasizing the importance of the role of Small Group Leader in relationship building, we often unintentionally downplay the significance of these other roles in our ministry, such as in worship, teaching and security. Our volunteers who fill these roles play an equally essential part in enabling us to move toward the accomplishment of our mission.
Don’t get me wrong – I love small groups! Children need healthy, supportive adults who can lead, nurture and develop them in these settings. But we also need our volunteers, regardless of role, to see the interconnectedness of everything we do, and their part in it.
Being a Small Group Leader is too easy
In children’s ministry, we often make a critical error – we assume our volunteers don’t want to be challenged.
Even as we invite people to join us on this awesome journey of ministry, we assume that they only want a simple task – one with minimal prep and maximum ease. While we think saying, “Oh, being a Small Group Leader is really easy. You’ll pick it up in no time!” is enticing people to join us, we’re actually communicating that their role will be boring, uninspiring and that commitment to it is entirely optional. Why would I adjust my calendar, cancel plans or get up early in the morning for something that you’ve just told me a monkey could do?
Children’s ministry can be tough, demanding, and even heart-wrenching at times. It requires sacrifice, determination, and the fruits of the Spirit by the basketful! But the reward of building relationships that last with kids, of seeing kids unashamedly and boldly declaring the name of Jesus, and watching them grow as Christ-followers – that’s worthy of our time, our talents and our utmost effort.
And it’s about so much more than being a Small Group Leader!