A Simple & Powerful Way to Grow the Relationship between Small Group Leaders and Students Every Month

Does it seem really difficult to connect your leaders and kids in meaningful relationships?

Even if you do Small Groups, with 8-12 kids who attend irregularly, the whole relationship aspect can be difficult to build in a meaningful way.

And if you don’t do Small Groups, it can be even more difficult.

Here’s advice about building relationships between leaders and kids I’ve received:

  • Have a greater relational focus in your Small Groups. Make sure your leaders focus more on connecting heart to heart with kids than simply getting through the Small Group material or activity.
  • Encourage your Small Group leaders to connect with their kids outside of Sundays by going to lunch at their schools or attending a sporting event.
  • Create more time in your services for Small Groups.

All of that is great advice, but it simply didn’t translate at the church where I serve.

We doubled the time of Small Groups and communicated to our leaders that they should focus on the relationships above all else.

For our older girls it helped, but for our younger girls and all the boys, the longer time just made them lose focus more quickly.

And as for connecting outside of Sundays, most of our leaders are parents and/or working full-time in an area notorious for bad traffic; it’s simply unrealistic to expect them to go to lunch at school or sporting events.

But we didn’t want to just give up on the idea of our leaders having meaningful relationships with the kids in our church, so we went to the drawing board.

Eventually, we thought, Right now 10 kids get 30 minutes with 2 leaders 3xs/month; what if 1 out of those 3xs, every kid got 5 minutes with 1 leader instead?

We decided to try it; here’s what it looked like.

Step 1: Keep Safety at the Forefront

We have enough space outside our large group area that we could put all the leaders together in the same room with a chair across from each one.

If you don’t have the space to do that, make sure you have at least 2 leaders in every room just like you would for a regular Small Group.

Step 2: Create a plan

We decided to dismiss to free-time early while leaders called students back one at a time.

We had to decide what leaders were going to stay in the room for safety and crowd control.

What leaders could help facilitate kids coming and going.

And what leaders would actually be having the one-on-one chats.

We also provided snacks to the kids when they came back to help them feel more comfortable.

Step 3: Communicate with your leaders

At a minimum, the week before, prep your leaders for the change.

Let them know you’re going to try an experiment.

They’ll be asking 3 questions: How was your week? (Or a more specific question depending on how well the leader knows the child), an Application Question, and How can I pray for you?

You don’t have to do a ton of prep because it’s basically taking something that is already done informally (conversations between leaders and kids) and formalizing it.

Step 4: Go for it

When you normally dismiss to Small Groups, explain to the kids what’s going to happen.

As the kids hang out and play games call them back one at a time for a chat and snack.

Step 5: Review

Check with your leaders how they felt it went.

Ask them if they felt it helped them get to know the kids better.

Do they think you should do it once a month?

When we did this, all of the leaders AND kids really enjoyed it.

Kids got to really express themselves, play with their church friends for an extended period of time and got a yummy snack.

Leaders got to connect with kids on a more personal level and pray individually with each kid.

Application Questions:

  1. What are the challenges to relationship building between leaders and kids at your church?
  2. Would one-on-one chats every month or two help?
  3. What else might help?

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Brandon Horst

I am passionate about family, especially my amazing wife, Hannah, my daughter, Emery, and my son Tristan. I am also passionate about helping Family Ministry Leaders lead better. I love new ideas, innovation, and collaborating with other leaders to make those ideas and innovations better. I currently serve as the Next Gen Pastor at Centerpointe Church in Fairfax, VA.

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Brandon Horst

I am passionate about family, especially my amazing wife, Hannah, my daughter, Emery, and my son Tristan. I am also passionate about helping Family Ministry Leaders lead better. I love new ideas, innovation, and collaborating with other leaders to make those ideas and innovations better. I currently serve as the Next Gen Pastor at Centerpointe Church in Fairfax, VA.

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