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5 Ways to Get More Students in Small Groups

We’re in the thick of Life Groups kickoff season—we’re getting the word out to students continually and recruiting leaders nonstop. Training is just around the corner and we’re praying for this year to be another life-changing year of small groups in our youth ministry. I was reflecting on some of the growth and positive things I’ve seen the last few years in our ministry and wanted to share a couple observations on getting more students into groups:

Make them cheap.
Life Groups don’t have to be free—but make sure the price isn’t an entry barrier. I think some cost is actually a good thing: 1) It allows you to offer some extra things and 2) gives them some “skin in the game” to help take responsibility of the group. As a family, we pay a small fortune for small groups for all four of our kids, so again you have to be careful that the price doesn’t become a barrier.

Make them consistent and fun.
Groups that meet regularly have a better chance of sticking and a better chance of growing. Make sure you meet weekly in groups and only take off for major holidays and important breaks like finals week. And groups that are fun are attractive to new students, too. Groups that laugh and learn together are magnetic to outsiders.

Take the summer off.
I think having school-year small groups is crucial for both leaders and students. When you have “evergreen” or always-running groups, you burn out leaders and students. Switch things up in the summer and give everyone a break.

Allow them to join with a friend.
I see the pros and cons of splitting students up into different groups, but when friends can be together they bring other friends. Groups grow. Let students make requests and put friends together for the win.

Keep leaders who get it.
Work hard to retain leaders. When leaders “get it,” they’ll help more students stick. Parents will trust them. Friends will come. Everyone wins. Want to grow Life Groups? Keep your top-tier leaders and they’ll bring them in.

Share another idea to get more students into groups! 

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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!