14 Sep The Teenage Brain & Why It’s Important to #LeadSmall
What is Lead Small?
Lead Small is a phrased coined by Orange that promotes the idea that every child, student and adult needs a small group of peers to connect with as they grow in their faith. They, like me, believe the best place for someone to grow their faith is in the context of a small group. Lead Small is about deciding to make small group the destination for everyone in our ministry and the foundation of everything we do. Orange has created the following resources to help ministry leaders lead small:
- Lead Small book – Five Big Ideas Every Small Group Leader Needs to Know
- Lead Small Culture book – Make Your Church a Place Where Kids Belong
- Lead Small blog – Helpful articles and stories for small group leaders in preschool, elementary and students
- Lead Small App – An app to help small group leaders lead their few
What We’re Learning About The Teenage Brain
Dr. Daniel Siegel wrote the book Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain. In that book and in an article on PRI Siegel shares how the teenage brain is re-wiring itself. That’s not new information, but some of his comments stood out to me. They stood out because it simply confirms what we already know: all of us are wired with a need to connect. A need to connect with God and with others. Here is one quote:
[symple_testimonial]“It’s possible that if we actually provided ways for adolescents to feel connected, or when they’re disconnected there could be support for them,” he says, then in “some of these examples, maybe not all of them, we can actually alter the course of these violent activities.”[/symple_testimonial]
The specific context there is helping adolescents avoid dangerous behavior, but our goal is on the other end of the spectrum. It’s to set them up as best we can to love God and love others. As Dr. Siegel has found, connection is needed. He even talks about how teenagers are wired to push away from adults:
[symple_testimonial]“Nature requires — not just for us humans, but for all mammals — for the child mammal or the child human to leave the nest and establish a home away from the biological parents. So there’s a natural drive for an adolescent to push away from adults,”[/symple_testimonial]
We know this is true. However, most of us know from experience that same drive to push away doesn’t usually apply to adults who choose to be in a student’s life and don’t have positional authority over them. As long as trust is established, students can open up and that relationship can be one where these challenges are processed in a healthy way, something Siegel calls for.
What does this mean for our ministries?
I believe every child from age 3 or 4 up through high school should be part of a consistent small group (with a weekly leader) in their church. Now, we can’t control how often families come, what service they come to, etc., but we can do our part. It is definitely not an easy way to “do” family ministry, but I do believe it’s the best way. The challenge is worth it.
I love that we have small groups and weekly leaders for kids age 3 up through high school in our church, but we’re continuing to ask how we can make small groups an even bigger part of everything we do. We certainly don’t have it all figured out. But, in the next post I’ll write about some ways to start or improve efforts to lead small that we have used.