You’ve probably heard about adult small groups at First Free. But did you know small groups are a mark of our ministry from preschool through high school? That’s because we know that small groups are one way the Lord has given us to build up the body of Christ. Here are four ways we see this happening in Children’s and Student Ministries:
Small groups build community.
Small groups are a place where we can know others and where we can be known. Friendships are built, accountability can be promoted, and relationships are developed with leaders. Like a greenhouse, small groups provide an environment that promotes growth. They provide a place to ask questions, process information, and make applications. This looks different for a three- or four-year-old than it does for a high school senior. Preschool and elementary students break into small groups for a short time on Sunday mornings, where middle and high school students spend about an hour in small groups on Wednesday evenings. While they are at different stages in development and have different life experiences, we believe that both young children and teenagers can grow through their participation in small groups.
Small groups help move knowledge from head to heart.
For younger kids, the small group leader brings questions to the group to help children respond to and apply what they have learned. As they get older, middle and high school students are given the opportunity to lead the small group discussion. The overall goal of small groups in Children’s and Student Ministries is to provide a context for the grace of the gospel to go deep in God’s people. Following Christ means we are always learning and growing.
Small groups are fruitful for both the leader and the members.
Small groups are a training ground for understanding, application, prayer, and spiritual gifts. As children and students grow in these areas, they are able to use their gifts to serve inside and outside the church. When a student leads a small group, their God-given gifts and abilities both come to the surface and are refined. For younger children the fruit may come years down the road, but the Lord uses the community of small groups to develop their gifts too. Some ways we have seen the fruit of small groups in high school students is through leading others at camps or in Bible studies. These principles are also true for adult leaders. As they lead, their God-given gifts and abilities are refined and strengthened for the good of the body.
Small groups provide context for God’s Word to grow deep in children and students.
Small groups provide opportunities to encourage and build one another up in God’s Word so that we will be thoroughly equipped for every good work. They provide an environment for children and students to be conformed to the image of Christ through his living Word as they study it together. This can happen for all ages. For example, a preschool small group leader teaching about God’s omnipresence might ask, “What does it mean that God is always with you? Are your mom and dad always you? What are some times when your mom and dad aren’t with you? Did you know that God is with you even when your mom and dad are not?” Or a high school senior might lead their peers through the book of Esther. As they learn how God rescues his people from annihilation by the evil Haman, they might ask each other, “What does this mean for us now? Is God in control of all things today in the same way that he was in Esther’s day?” Small groups across the ages help children and students to grow together as they develop the habit of talking with each other about spiritual things.
Small groups also provide an opportunity to obey the “one another” commands in Scripture such as: encourage one another, serve one another, love one another, teach one another, build one another up, and pray for one another.
Are small groups a way you would like to be involved in discipling the next generation? Contact Judy Hollander (Children’s Ministries), Lucas McGarity (Middle School Ministry) or Jordan Krahn (High School Ministry) to learn more.