Small Groups and Student Ministry

The fall semester began this week for many students all over the nation. This means getting back into regular routines that seem to go away during the summer months. Parents are waking up their kids in the early morning hours, school teachers are preparing lessons, coaches are lining the fields, and you can hear the marching bands once again as they prepare for Friday nights. All of these things are exciting things to look forward to and be a part of.

In the life of the local church, student ministries all over the nation are gearing up for their fall launches as well. Student pastors and leaders have the incredible opportunity to partner with parents in developing students to be salt and light on their school campuses. To take what they learned during the summer months through camp, retreats, and mission trips and leverage it for Gospel influence.

Also, new small groups are gearing up to launch, and existing ones are beginning to get back into their regular routines. Whether these are on-campus groups or off-campus groups, these are crucial in the life of a Christ follower. Of all the things student ministries do, small groups are one of, if not the most important, aspects we can build into. Allow me to give you a few reasons why I believe this.

Biblical small groups faithfully engage in the Word of God. Students have the incredible opportunity to engage in God’s Word on a more intimate level with a caring adult. While the preaching of God’s Word in a worship service is very important, it is almost impossible to digest the content of God’s Word outside of a small group community. When we sit down with a group of people to read and study Scripture, we have the opportunity to get to know God, our Heavenly Father, more intimately. It is important to remember that without the Word of God, small groups are simply social clubs. Discipleship is the key.

Biblical small groups give students a safe place to ask questions and seek Truth. Students have hard questions about life issues and what the Bible communicates about these issues. Too many times in the local church, we want to avoid hard issues and answer with the typical, “Read your Bible and pray more.” While these are definite spiritual disciplines, small groups are an incredible opportunity for students to ask questions and seek Truth on a deeper level. Students should not feel inferior or “lesser” than Christians because they have doubts. We all have doubts, every single human being. Small groups also allow students to see caring adults as they walk through life with their own struggles and victories. Within this, the accountability factor is a huge part of small groups. Relationships are key.

Biblical small groups give students an intentional place to be known. Students thrive on having small group leaders they know they can trust and who are available to them. Parents love that they can have other trusted adults impact their kids’ lives. It is a win-win situation. “What is God teaching you through His Word right now?” “How are you making Jesus famous in your circle of influence?” “How are you glorifying God in your thoughts, words, and actions?” These are great questions for a caring small group leader to ask students they are in a discipleship relationship with. When the local church loves the next generation and reinforces the truths of God’s Word to them, we see students sent out to make a difference and invest in younger believers with the same passion. Intentionality is key.

May student ministries all over be purposeful in developing healthy small groups for students to engage in. When leaders and students dive into the mission of God together, incredible Kingdom work takes place.