10 Great Questions to Get Your Small Group Talking
TIP: START YOUR SMALL GROUP MEETING WITH A GOOD QUESTION:
- What was your one of your highs and lows from this week?
- What is the something you did this week that you wish you could to do over again?
- When you have some free time, what kinds of things do you like to do?
- If you could change anything about when you were growing up as a kid, what would you change?
- If you could have any job you wanted in the future, what would it be? Why?
- When do you feel most alive or the most “yourself”?
- What is one of the hardest things about being a teenager?
- Can you remember when you first heard about Jesus? What did you think about Him?
- How might you describe your relationship with Jesus these days?
- What is something you really would like to change in your school? Your city?
Tip: If you lead a small group of middle school, high school, or college students I like using the small book, The Personality of Jesus: How to Introduce Young People to Jesus Christ and Help Them Grow in their Faith as a great study to discover Jesus. It has great discussion questions at the end of each short chapter too!
Student ministry is one of those vocations that sometimes perplexes people. I often get asked, “So what do you do?” I love it when people ask me that because it gives me a free 30 seconds or so to promote and advocate for what I believe is one of the most important ministry priorities for any church or para church. I want to see every young person in every city of the world have an opportunity to meet Jesus, grow in their faith, and to grow as a leader to impact more young people in their arena of influence.
I came to Christ as a high school kid through Young Life and then served for 15 years on staff with YL in Arizona, Colorado, and New Zealand.
My good friend, Tom Harcus who started the Crossway Chapel church planting network offers some great insight on building relationships. Whenever you want to break ground and build new relationships, these principles will work. They are especially insightful and valuable to me because if you carry out these principles you will not only plant churches, but they will likely be new churches with a fun and inviting student ministry DNA from the get go.
MVC’s Student Ministry Leaders Juggle a ton to give 7-10 hours a week to serve students!
T-Shirts & Hats are Great Conversation Starters
Conversation starters are one of the most important skills to learn in student ministry. Coming up with a good conversation starter to meet a new person can be one of the hardest parts of student ministry. One of my favorite ways of how to start a conversation with a new person is simple: Look at people’s hats and t-shirts. They give you free information about something they might care about. Whether their hat or t-shirt has the name of a college, team, or brand, it is an easy way to strike up a conversation.
For example: if their hat or t-shirt has the name of a team on it, ask them, “How do you think (the team on their shirt) is going to do this year?” Or if their shirt has a brand on it like, Patagonia, you can ask them, “Hey, how do you like Patagonia gear? Does it hold up? I’ve been thinking of getting a Patagonia jacket for a while, what do you think?”
This is one the easiest ways to start a conversation. And who knows, that little conversation could be the first stitch in the fabric of a relationship that God may have opened up to lead that person to Jesus. So give it a try!
Love without conversation is impossible. –Mortimer Adler
After reading this, would you be willing to share this and offer a comment below? I respond to each comment.
I remember meeting the philosopher, Mortimer Adler when I was a middle school kid in Aspen, CO. And the one thing I remember about him, besides he is really smart, is that he talked to me, even though I was probably the youngest person in the room. In all my years of student ministry, I believe if you can learn just 3 skills you will impact more students than you can possibly dream of. If you want to have a dynamic student ministry then simply help your leadership team excel in these areas and then the rest is gravy. I’ve attached at the end of this post a 1 page resource you can download that will help you keep meeting new students and following up with them well.
1 – BEING THERE
You may be able to recruit people to serve in your student ministry. You may even be able to get them to commit to training. But to get them to commit to going to a middle school, high school, or college campus 1-2 times a week to meet students and build relationships is what separates the prairie dogs from the pandas.
Leading teams requires meetings. Hopefully not too many of them, but you can’t organize movement and growth of a team of people without regular time together to accomplish unity in vision, clarity of strategy, and rehearsal of tactics that will work.
TEAM MEETINGS MUST UNIFY YOUR TEAM ON IT’S VISION
Visionary leaders see clearly where they are going and constantly remind their team, with very simple words and word pictures what that vision is (i.e. a vision statement). If the vision of your team is a bit mirky for the team leader, then you can expect that the vision will be muddy for the rest of your team. By contrast if the team leader has a very clear vision that they talk about all of the time, then they can expect that even if the vision is a bit cloudy their team is still onboard. The Great Commission is a classic example of how Jesus encapsulated his Kingdom vision into a memorable vision statement that has obviously changed the world ever since:
And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ -Matthew 28:18-2-0
In her recent book, In Search of Adolescence: A New Look at an Old Idea, Crystal Kirgiss accomplishes a profoundly important goal: Defining adolescence as a special stage of maturity that deserves special attention from adults who care to see them mature in Christ.
Jesus Christ appeals to every kind of person. The young, the old, the fisherman, the tax collector, the scribe, the rich, the blind beggar, Mary and Martha, and the woman caught in adultery; all heard him and were drawn to him. One reason people are drawn to Jesus is because we can relate with him.
YOUTH MINISTRY HELPS KIDS RELATE TO JESUS
Jesus knows what it is like to grow up. He was a baby, a boy, a teenager, and a mature adult. He worked in his father’s shop just like boys today learn from their dad or grandfather how to fix a car, work with tools, or plant a garden. Just like adolescents today have to patiently study in school, learn life skills, and wait to set sail out into the world on their own, Jesus spent many years in Nazareth as an adolescent before his official ministry was launched. We need to remember that although Jesus was fully God, he was also fully human.
Leaders and decision-makers are critical in times of crisis. We have been investing in leaders in Nepal for the past 10 years and we are hoping to be able to encourage and resource them as much as we can as they prayerfully step into relief work that few are prepared to do. As of today 5,000 are reported dead and estimates are that those numbers may rise to 10,000. Relief agencies are on the ground providing food, water, shelter, and medical help. But there is also a long term need of coming alongside leaders who will have the will and the ability to follow through on projects to help rebuild people’s lives.
If you are wanting to find a way to help, I’ve listed below a few resources that may be of interest if you know people in Nepal or just want to get involved…. (read more)…
Yesterday morning a destructive earthquake shook central Nepal causing significant damage and loss of life. I am in contact with several pastors who I have known for the past 10 years and by God’s grace the people who I know directly are safe, yet some of them have probably lost friends or relatives. At the moment the families are living in tents outside because the buildings are unstable and aftershocks are still coming (and will be for months most likely). I’m staying in constant communication with those I can reach to get updates.
The death toll from the Himalayan Earthquake is over 3,500 today and continues to rise especially as relief agencies venture out into the villages. Most of the news is coming out of Kathmandu, but the epicenter was between Kathmandu and Pokhara (where I spend most of my time there) so in the coming days the destruction to villages will become more known to us.
The pastors who I’ve been working with are uniquely positioned to reach out to many of the rural villages surrounding Pokhara. One leader has been literally hiking into villages for years and years to share the Gospel and equip churches in youth ministry in these remote areas. He travels into some of the poorest regions of Nepal where relief agencies will likely not have a significant presence in the coming days as they will set up their centers in the larger cities.
WE’RE GOING TO ASSESS & SERVE THE REMOTE AREAS AFFECTED BY THE NEPAL EARTHQUAKE
Some of the villages we will likely visit: Chapang (the poorest people group in Nepal), Tirsuli, Ghorka (90% of houses are damaged), Barpak, Shading, Lanajhung. Information is barely available yet for villages in the epicenter, so a long relief effort is anticipated.
We have made a plan to leave in a few days to join up with our partners in Kathmandu and Pokhara to accomplish a few simple goals:
- ENCOURAGE: Encourage and support our partners who are leaders of leaders as they begin a very long journey to restoring lives and communities.
- ASSESS: Assess the situation in several cities and remote villages where our partners have the most significant relationships. We will make plans for follow up visits, short term missions projects, and immediate financial needs.
- AID: Offer some financial assistance for food, water, shelter, medical supplies and transportation. Transportation is something we have known is a problem for a long time, and we have decided that now is the time to try to get them a 4WD vehicle for their ministry. This will also greatly enable leaders who can assess and make decisions while visiting less reached areas of Nepal.
- FOLLOW UP: In the coming months we will determine how to come along side the churches and leaders we know to maximize their potential to get glory for God in the midst of this trial.
WE AIM TO RAISE $25,000 IN 5 DAYS. PLEASE CONSIDER A GENEROUS GIFT!
In faith, we have a goal, to raise $25,000 in the next 5 days. If you would like to contribute to this initial relief effort please follow the link below to give online. We consider your gifts a sacred trust, and it will all go directly to those who are most in need and those who can lead and facilitate the distribution of resources with the best stewardship possible. Please respond by Friday, May 1, 2015 and GIVE at:
Thank you for your support. We will report back to you as we learn more and see how God is working in the midst of this difficult trial.