My second breakout yesterday was Organizing Intentional Small Groups with Joy Bowen. Joy is an Orange Specialist with the reTHINK Group. She shared so much about the importance of small groups not only to children but also to their parents. She said that the very essence of Orange is found in intentional small groups and is the biggest gift you can give parents.
Here is just a bit of what she shared:
Small Groups are Consistent.
Provide a safe space where kids can find their "tribe." Kids need someone else who believes what they believe. The friends that they spend time with will ultimately influence their decisions in life.
- Implement a registration process and assign kids to a leader
- Ideal ratios are 8-10 kids for every one leader. Divide groups by gender for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade.
- Give visitors a separate experience. On Deck leaders will take visitors and repeats.
- Chill zone/leadership room. Create a special room for kids who are there for 2 services because parents are serving the church.
Consistent, Invested Leaders
If you can't or won't provide a consistent leader in the life of a child, you are settling for a style of ministry that teaches truth, but not a model that disciples a life. When leaders are relationally connected their commitment increases.
- Make sure you have the right person for the right job. What are their strengths?
- weekly commitments
- include a start and end date
- Talk about time commitments
- Replace yourself culture
- Create a leadership development plan
- Encourage leaders to move up with their kids. Honor the relationships they are building.
- Recruit summer help
- Feed them.
- Celebrate them
Small Group Leaders are Coached.
- If small group strategy is where people have the greatest chance to experience life change, then it makes sense to make a filter for how we shepherd and disciple volunteers as well as kids.
- Coaches lead team huddles and communicate directly to their SGLs.
- Coaches are another level in the replace yourself strategy for subs.
- Coaches advocate for the SGLs and kids. They provide feedback to staff, monitor when small groups need to multiply, and help train the SGLs in their role.
Small Group Time is Calculated.
- Leaders should be in place 10 minutes before the start of your program to receive kids in their small groups.
- Watch the clock! someone has to make sure that your large group time doesnt take away from the small group experience.
Small Groups are Celebrated.
- Open house
- Baptism, Birthday celebrations
- A quarterly social gathering for small group leaders and their kids
- Family experience
Remember that "how are you doing?" and "how can I pray for you?" trumps agenda EVERY time. It's all about relationships.
This was by far my favorite breakout. One because my heartbeat is for small groups in our children's ministry. Two because I absolutely love Joy. I feel very blessed not only for the opportunity to learn from her in this breakout, but even more so because I count her as a friend.