We’ve tried to do everything we can to help make your small groups better with our new LIVE curriculum! We really believe we’ve created something that will help volunteers succeed with teenagers as well as draw your kids closer to Jesus. But, what we haven’t done (and we can’t do for you) is create the values for your small group ministry.
It is important for leaders to establish some key values that you want to appear within your small groups. I would suggest both relational and attitudinal values. Since all small-group leaders will have different personalities and leadership styles, there should be some overall ministry values that help these leaders treat all the teenagers within a small group alike.
I believe it’s the ultimate responsibility of the main leader to establish these values, but I also believe that good leaders seek the input of others. So, if you’re the main leader, ask veteran small group leaders for their input of values. If you’re a small group leader, begin thinking of what values need to appear within your small group and share them with the primary leader of your ministry.
Here are three examples of what I personally believe should be values within small groups: authenticity, confidentiality and a shepherding love.
Authenticity: I want small group leaders to model a genuine, transparent walk with Jesus. They don’t have to be perfect, but I want them to be authentic Christ-followers. I also want them to be authentic in how they talk about their life. Teenagers need to hear that the caring adults around them are real…they have problems…they experience pain…they doubt, etc. That’s one of my primary values.
Confidentiality: I want small groups to become a safe place for teenagers. I want them to be able to go deeper than the surface and talk about stuff that’s bothering them. In order for honesty to appear, the group must be safe. Here’s the expectation of the value: What is shared in the group must stay in the group.
Shepherding love: This is an example of a value that I have for small group leaders. It’s not a value that’s promoted to the teenagers, but I want my small group leaders to care for their members as a shepherd cares for his sheep. I may get paid to be the youth pastor, but for the kids in Cathy’s small group, she is their youth pastor. That’s the type of value that will ensure teenagers are being discipled
You obviously don’t need to agree with our share my values to have a healthy small group ministry (and I’ve only given you a few), but you do need to make sure values are defined AND communicated. I know a lot of leaders who keep their values a secret…not on purpose, they just assume everyone knows they values. They DON’T! Clarify your values…Communicate your values… Repeat!
When I’ve made the mistake of not communicating our small group values, I had small-group leaders who were wanna-be teachers and turned their groups into classrooms, while others created a permissive “anything goes” attitude toward the lesson and time together. I learned never to assume that we all had the same values. Your values should be few – and then clear, concise, and consistently communicated.