You’ve probably heard us talk—a lot—about the value of small groups. And if you’ve been with XP3 for any amount of time, you are aware of the small group component that includes small group questions and next steps to help your small group leaders unpack the content from each session for your middle school and high school students. But more important than the “what” of leading small—more than the how-to of recruiting volunteers and actually running a small group—is the “why” of leading small.
Because if you’ve had the opportunity to sit down with your small group leaders, or better yet, if you’ve had the chance to lead a small group yourself, you know that something remarkable happens when one leader has the chance to regularly invest in a group of students.
But what happens when you take the small group strategy one step further and allow your high school students to invest in the lives of younger students? What kind of impact can they have?
One such story was recently shared with us from a high school student who was given the opportunity to lead a younger group of boys during a summer VBS. His experience highlights the power of leading small:
“As a kid, I always loved Vacation Bible School. It was the music, the drama, the neat crafts we made and learning about God in a fun environment that entertained me and kept me coming back. As I got older, it was leading kids in recreation, running around the church to find an extra pair of scissors for small group leaders, and watching the children find God and grow in their faith. As a high school student, I enjoyed leading the kids in recreation and being there to let them get out their energy. This year, however, I was asked to do something I never thought I could do— lead a small group. I’m 17, and this was a big step for me. I had never done something so direct in VBS. Sure, I had been able to help out here and there, but never had I actually lead a group of kids in a setting like this. I was honestly a little scared that I would be a bad example and that the kids wouldn’t learn from me. I really didn’t think I would be able to lead them. I realized that I was responsible for these kids and the expectation placed upon me that I was to lead them closer to God terrified me. When the first day came and I met the kids who would look up at me and see me leading them, I didn’t think I could do it.
“But it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my life, if not for the fellowship, leadership and discipleship of it all, then for one other reason in particular. I had the opportunity to lead two of my kids to the saving grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. One Thursday afternoon, two of my boys came forward during the invitation. I took them aside and walked through the gospel with them, making sure they understood what I was communicating to them, and the weight of the decision they were about to make. When I finished, I asked them, ‘Would you like to accept Jesus into your heart to forgive your sins?’ They both looked me in the eye, nodded their heads, and said ‘yes.’ I prayed with them and realized something huge: None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t said ‘yes’ to leading the small group. I wouldn’t have met these amazing kids, I wouldn’t have planted the seed of the gospel in their lives, and I definitely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to help lead them to Christ.
“I realized in that moment how much God loves to use us, His children, to accomplish things that He doesn’t even need us for, just so that we can see the effect His glory has on other people. It’s a truly humbling experience! If you’ve ever had second thoughts about leading a small group, I’d encourage you right now to just do it. It’s an amazing thing to experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Leading small isn’t about big attendance, big events and lots of buzz. It’s about authentic faith. It’s about doing something huge in the lives of a few. It’s about the opportunity to be strategic about investing in the lives of a handful of students in a way that changes their lives forever.
So, how can you begin to lead small? If you’re already using a large group/small group model, how can you take leading small to the next level? Maybe it’s getting your high school students invested in your middle school small groups or asking your middle school students to be involved in the children’s ministry? Or, maybe for you it’s taking the step to set-up a small group environment within your student ministry so that your students can begin to reap the benefits of small group relationships. Wherever you find yourself, it’s a great time to begin thinking about your next step and how you can begin to lead small.
For more about leading small and to get in on the conversation, check out the blog: LeadSmall.org as well as the XP3 Students Blog post “Lead Small: A Resource For Your Small Group Leaders”