There are a ton of reasons small groups don’t work for students. It is easy to look at the group and point fingers, but the best place to find an answer in this situation is to look at yourself. In my experience, I’ve seen several big communication breakdowns that stop true community from forming in student small groups.
I got to share four of them this week with our students in our last week kicking off Life Groups together—here are four of the big reasons groups don’t work:
Lack of communication
This is the person who gets to group and refuses to say anything. He or she will not let ANYONE in or say ANYTHING. They will not be vulnerable and refuse to let someone in. Lead by example. Model authenticity and openeness to this student.
This is the classic “oversharer,” the person who talks on and on about everything in their life. The person who refuses to stop talking about themselves and redirects all of the conversations to make it about them. Model boundaries and appropriate sharing to this student.
Shares just enough … or not quite everything
This is the person who shares just enough to satisfy their leader—or shares enough of their story to get correction that doesn’t sting. They tell the story slanted to their perspective and hold back just as they get to the finish line. Model transparency and push students gently toward sharing it all.
Creates an “us vs. them” atmosphere
I was talking to leader this week who said, “I would love to go to their games … but I never get invited. I think they would be surprised at what I would show up at if they just let me in.” Work through the challenges of relational ministry by just showing up. Sports schedules are on the school website and breaking down those barriers could be crucial to getting the group to open up.
In your youth ministry experience, what are other breakdowns that stop community and what have you done to fight against them?