4 Questions to Help You #LeadSmall in Family Ministry

leadsmallmugIn this post I wrote about what Lead Small is and shared some insights from studies done on the teenage brain that point to the need for students to be relationally connected. I also mentioned that I believe every church should have a consistent small group with a weekly leader for kids age 3 up through high school. I know from experience that it is a huge, but it’s worth it.

From Kid in Small Group to Small Group Leader

A student in our high school ministry is in 10th grade this year. Her family began coming to our church when she was in elementary school. In talking about her experience as an elementary kid, she said she loved her time in elementary because of her small group leaders. She said she had trust issues as a child, but her leaders helped her see that people do love her, care for her, want what’s best for her. As a result, she opened up to them and had great conversations that helped her along in life.

She named all the people that made an impact in her life, even a couple leaders who weren’t her small group leader but still knew and cared for her. As a middle school student she began serving as an assistant small group leader in elementary. This year, she will lead her own small group and I’m really excited for her, because she will provide for her group of girls what others are providing for her.

That is one story of many we have experienced from our effort to lead small.

4 Questions to Help You Lead Small

These 4 questions are ones we had to answer as we have attempted to Lead Small in family ministry since our church was started in 2006. I hope they can help you transition to lead small or improve your small group strategy as we are attempting to do.

Why do you believe in Lead Small?

You may not, yet. Read Lead Small Culture and Lead Small and see if you do. If you do, however, you’ll need to know why. You can’t cast a vision for Lead Small until you can clearly articulate why your ministry needs to lead small. People care a lot more about why than they do about what and how (see Simon Sinek talk about it at TED).

Who is the primary champion of lead small in your ministry?

Hint: it should be you. Whether you’re the Preschool Director, Student Pastor, NextGen Pastor, or another role in family ministry, you should be the primary champion of lead small in your ministry. If you lead student ministry, you should be the primary champion of lead small with students. If you are a large group director for elementary, you should be the one who champions small group and makes sure everything you do in large group sets up small group leaders for great conversation.

If your structure includes a Family Pastor or NextGen Pastor, that person should be the biggest champion of Lead Small because it must start at the top. It’s not just about being a champion either, it’s about accountability and ensuring Lead Small is happening. Does that mean you have to specifically manage it? No, which leads to the next question.

Who is responsible to lead small group leaders at each age level?

While everyone should champion lead small, somebody has to specifically lead and care for small group leaders in each environment. That could be you. It could be a team of volunteer coaches who lead small group leaders. It could be a part-time staff person. All of that will depend on your church size and staff/volunteer structure. But, we can’t effectively create a lead small culture for kids and students if we’re not doing the same thing for their leaders.

How will you get weekly small group leaders?

Creating a consistent small group experience for kids and students requires a weekly presence in their lives. The time commitment from the leader increases as kids get older, but a weekly commitment is the starting point. Taking a break in summer is a good way to help them refresh and create new momentum in the fall.

Will you lose volunteers if you transition to every week? Probably.

There’s no way around that. You’re raising the bar and some people won’t meet the new expectation. A lot of children’s ministries have volunteers serve every other week. But, think of it this way, you just need half of them to make that commitment to maintain your current ratio. If you have 40 bi-weekly leaders you only have 20 in the environment each week. So, if 20 of 40 quit, and 20 stick, you are right where you left off and more lead small. You’ll want to develop a plan beginning with how to cast the vision (A LOT) all the way to making the move.

Need Help Transitioning to #LeadSmall?

The Lead Small Culture book outlines a transition plan that includes 7 steps over 2 stages, with a third stage focused on never-ending improvement. I highly recommend that book to help you make the transition. If you need more guided assistance, I’d love to help. Just contact me and let me know.

  • I agree and love the idea of asking for regular weekly commitment. Do you feel this can be the same for those who only have 1 service? Do you ask for the same commitment? Do you just shorten the commitment to be every week for 6 months instead of lets say a year? Thoughts?

    • I don’t think you can really do weekly if you have one service. I think that’s the one exception. I like every other week in that case, with the idea of starting a volunteer-only service as soon as you can so people can do weekly. I’ve seen the volunteer-only service be really helpful too when churches do some unique things with it.