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6 Ways to Help Grow Your Small Group Students

Here are a few simple ways to help students take a next step in their spiritual growth. We want our small group leaders to help students grow on their own:

Think about the individual
The large group setting is a more objective, big picture look at Scripture that challenges crowd students. A small group setting is totally subjective, allowing students to be challenged individually because they are known, loved and cared for. A small group leader can think about the individual by reflecting on how God has been moving in their hearts. Maybe even replay discussions you’ve had with your students over the past month. Then suggest a resource that fits where God is already moving their heart.

Personalize a resource
When you find the right resource, take time to write a note in the front of it. Make it personal to them, share your heart on why you wanted them to have it and speak into the future you see for them. When you hand a resource to someone, it says a lot—but why not say even a little more and jot a few thoughts inside the cover.

Encourage a small step
Last week, we learned to celebrate any step forward in building a relational ministry. A baby step is still a step forward, and sometimes we have to remember that spiritual growth doesn’t come in leaps and bounds. Sometimes, the small steps are huge to a student. Encourage a step, no matter the size.

Encourage a big step
Blow their mind with something out of their league. Think bigger than they think of themselves. Believe in them enough to challenge them to bite off something huge. Tell them they are up for the challenge and think they can do it. Who knows, it might be just what they need for a burst of spiritual formation.

Offer to go through the study/book/resource with them
What if you did it alongside them, too? Help them know you are serious by offering to walk down the path a little ways with them. Maybe it is reading a few chapters with them, maybe serving together for a few weeks, or texting back and forth with questions and thoughts about what they are reading. “Grow on your own” doesn’t release us from helping students journey some of it together.

Check in after a few weeks
Giving resources away to students and encouraging them to grow is what we’re all about. But better leadership is to offer some accountability and check in on their progress. The accountability encourages an expectation that they can and will get through this, and you are partnering with them in these steps of the spiritual journey.

Next steps in spiritual growth aren’t easy, but they can be life changing. What other ways can small group leaders encourage students to take a “next step” in their spiritual growth?  

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Josh Griffin is high school pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He’s the co-counder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and host of the Youth Ministry Garage Podcast. He's authored more than 20 youth ministry resources and is the author of "99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders" with Doug Fields. Josh is a father of 4 who speaks a little, podcasts a little, Twitters a bit, and blogs a lot. You can find him at DownloadYouthMinistry.com!