Do you remember the time you said “yes” to becoming a small group leader?
Maybe your “yes” was followed by 15 years of bondage . . . (kidding, but really).
Maybe your “maybe” was followed by a few questions . . .
“Are you crazy?”
“What are you really asking me to do?”
“Do I have what it takes to survive teenagers?”
“How many kids are we talking about?”
When I hear questions like these, I hand the potential leader an espresso, spray them down with lavender then explain this: In essence, being a small group leader is being a “go-to for a few.” It’s someone dedicated to guiding a kid spiritually and committed to caring about them as a valuable person made in the image of God. You be you, and show up for your few.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Then we talk about how much time is usually needed.
“It could be one hour a week of meeting time, and maybe a few hours more (like 5, 10, 20 or 40) depending on how involved you get (P.S. Can you come to camp with us?)
It’s really pretty simple.
And then I’d share that ONE OTHER thing.
“You need to be their pastor too.”
Cue the concerned looks and questions again.
“I’m not a pastor.”
“I didn’t go to school to be a pastor.”
“Never call me that again.”
But here’s the thing, every person living, whether he or she gets paid for ministry or not, is called to full-time ministry. Your life is a full-time ministry when you’ve experienced the grace of Jesus’ ministry. Regardless of who you are and regardless of what you do, you were wired to love the world around you.
For you, this includes caring for a few spiritually.
The Latin word pāstor means, “to take to pasture” or describes a role as “feeder.” Your role as a small group leader is to feed the spiritual life of each person in your group.
Your influence in the pastoral role is important because very few people will have the front row access that you and their parents will. Few will have the concentrated hours to listen, ask questions, and lean into what a kid is going through.
It can feel like a lot of responsibility, but it’s more about being aware of your role than it is about perfecting it. God is able to do so much through you, and will give you everything you need as you pastor the people in your small group.
If you want a few ways to grow in your pastoral leadership as an SGL you can begin with these three things:
Learn about the grade level you’re leading.
You’re going to want to do a few things to keep their developmental phase in mind. Do some research about the phase you’re leading. (You can check out a great one here.) And makes some notes about how that changes what you do!
After you know a little bit more about what the kids in your group need, how they best communicate, and some challenges they may be facing you can think about how to pastor them best.
Grow an authentic faith for yourself.
Ugh, this one can be tough. But we have to pay attention to the formation of our own faith if we want the few in our group to pay attention to the formation of theirs. Having an authentic faith leads others to discover their own. Orange describes the process of developing that faith in the context of growing faith skills. If you try them, they will work for you just like they can work for your few.
Teach faith skills.
Work on developing these things in your life and in the life of the people in your group. Think about the phase that they are in and help them do these five things in a way that makes sense for the phase of life they are in.
- Navigate the Bible – Help them search and locate Scripture in a way that helps them understand God’s Word.
- Personalize Scripture – Help them memorize and practice applying Scripture.
- Dialogue with God – Model praying in private and public, lead them to learn to pray in their own ways.
- Articulate Faith – Give them ideas about how to share and back up their faith when their faith is questioned.
- Worship With Your Life – Help them find environments or events where they can praise God and give.
Focusing on the five faith skills helps feed the faith of your few.
You may not feel like you have what it takes to be the person you have in mind when you hear the word pastor. You could be questioning your education, cool factor, ability to communicate, level of likes on your social media accounts, or even your ability to stick with a Bible reading plan. But none of that matters when you set your mind on taking care of a few spiritually and making their connection with God and yours a priority.