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Small Groups for Kids and Students – A Gift from Orange

I have attended every Orange Conference since it launched, except one, the second one.

Each year I attend I receive tons of gifts. No, not gifts you might normally think about this time of year. Not freebies, giveaways, or anything like that.

I mean gifts in the sense that I go to the Orange Conference and I learn about a number of different things that feel like gifts for my leadership and my ministry. It might be an idea, a resource, a connection, or even the gift of being challenged in my way of thinking. I receive those gifts and take them back home to apply at my church and it helps tremendously. One gift I’m incredibly thankful for that I have received from Orange over the years is the idea of Lead Small.

Small Groups for Kids and Students – Lead Small

“Lead Small” is a term coined by Orange to focus on the importance of providing small groups for every kid and every student. It’s the idea that life change happens best in the context of community where someone can truly belong. It calls for volunteers who will serve as Small Group Leaders and show up every week for their group. They will, in many ways, be the pastor to their few. Their group of 2nd-grade boys or 10th-grade girls, or whatever the group might look like.

People have asked me about the small group approach many times and I always tell them the same thing. It’s hard. It’s very hard. Much harder than any other model of ministry I have seen in children’s and student ministries. However, it’s better. The hard work and challenges are worth it. We have over a decade of experience in this model and so many stories that show just how much better this approach is in the long run. As we have led through this model over the years, here are some specific gifts we’ve received from Orange that have helped us.

Small Groups for Kids and Students – Resources and Ideas

Small Groups for Kids and Students – Stories and Life Change

After having used this model for over a decade, we have seen so many great stories unfold because of this approach.

  • By in large, if an elementary child or a middle/high school student gets baptized, the small group leader is usually who they choose to baptize them.
  • Kids choose which service to attend based on sticking with their small group.
  • Leaders serve weekly and many will stay with their groups for 3+ years (especially in student¬†ministry).
  • Small Group Leaders have been the connection to parents going through a difficult time.
  • Kids love when their small group leaders show up at their games, shows, etc., and some of our leaders really go over the top.
  • High school students serve as small group leaders in elementary to pay it forward after the experience they had.
  • Graduated students stay connected with their leaders from their high school small group.
  • Parents turn to small group leaders for help in leading their children.
  • Small Group Leaders develop enough trust where kids and students share really important, and sensitive, truths.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Those stories can happen in all models of ministry where relationships are formed and the gospel is center, but there’s no doubt that we have seen more fruit from this approach than I’ve ever seen from other approaches.

As leaders, it’s our job to Lead Small and create¬†a culture where small groups are the foundation. I’m thankful for all of the “gifts” I’ve received from Orange through the Orange Conference over the years that fit in this “Lead Small” category. I’m also thankful because I know there will be more to come. It’s one reason I look forward to the Orange Conference so much.

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