The Value of Customizing Small Group Material

By Kurt Halvorsen

The dream of every student pastor/point person is to purchase small group material in a box, add a small group leader, and then sit back and watch life change occur in student small groups. Right! That ended up being my approach with the XP3 small group material. I would read through the small group questions and make minor adjustments, but I did not take the time to put myself in students’ shoes and think about what they would experience in small group.

XP3 does a great job of providing a foundation, but it is up to us to build on that foundation by customizing the material to fit our groups. In fact, this is what the XP3 team highly recommends. I was doing a disservice to our small group leaders by not setting them up to succeed and to our students by placing them all in the same box. I was not taking into account the different learning styles which were present in our groups. Some students may be visual learners, some may be auditory learners and some may be experiential learners. I made the mistake of assuming that every student was an auditory learner and they would stay engaged by sitting there and answering questions fired at them for 45-60 minutes.

I now take into account the different learning styles and include more tools for our small group leaders to use during their group time. Some of the tools that I have used are role playing exercises, teenage case studies, partner activities, interpreting pictures, having students write their thoughts on paper, surveys, writing a note to a family member, looking at song lyrics, and putting Scripture in their hands so they can see and interact with it.

I am not the most creative guy in the world, but it is amazing what ideas come to mind when I take time and put myself in the leaders’ and students’ shoes. I lead a small group of 6th grade boys and I want to provide the best small group experience possible so that they stay engaged, take steps in their faith and look forward to our time together each week. Our small group leaders noticed the changes I made and they appreciated it. We owe it to our leaders and our students to provide the best material possible. What are you doing to customize the XP3 small group material? Take some time to think through your student group and how some minor changes in your small group approach might make a major impact.

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Kurt Halvorsen has been the Student Pastor at Springbrook Community Church in Naperville, IL for over 7 years. Kurt is married to Kristy and they live in Aurora, IL with their three children: Bryce, Trent and Mackenzie. Kurt has not written any books, but he is published in a youth ministry games book. He sold a game for $40.

Kurt can be reached via email: kurt@springbrookchurch.org or www.facebook.com/halvyone

Orange Conference 2018