Thursday, May 28, 2015

4 Keys for a Successful College or Youth Small Group

This is a guest post from Elizabeth Hobbs, a missionary kid who grew up in Poland with parents who were reaching out to European college students. These day's she's heavily involved with her local Chi Alpha campus ministry on the University of Wyoming, and applying the lessons she's learned from college ministry to all student ministry.

Not every small group will flourish. Not every Bible study will produce the results sought after. With that in mind, I have provided four focuses that every successful small group that I've ever witnessed has had great measures of. If you want to point your small groups in the direction of success, strive after Christ's purpose in these four things, and you will see growth.

1) Christ-centered, Grace-driven, Redemptive Relationship
As Paul Tripp notes in his sermon series on a Christian's walk with God, everything about the Christian faith requires relationship. We have a relationship with God, and are called to be in relationship with His creation. That's one of the primary causes to start a small group – to build relationship with God's children, and God himself.

The kind of relationship that you want to create in small groups have to be Christ-centered, because without Christ we are hopeless and life is pointless. They have to be grace-driven, because Christ died to give us grace. If we can't give others the same grace, then why do we have hope that Christ will give it to us? Our relationships need to be redemptive – just as Christ's purpose was to draw us back to himself, so our relationships should draw others to Christ.

Relationship is the single most important aspect of any small group. If you focused solely on building healthy relationship with Christ and others and did nothing else as a small group, it would probably succeed in all the other goals you could possibly set.
2) Consistency

All successful small groups have at least one element of consistency. This is not to say they are all the same every time they meet, but there is always a consistent element – the time you meet at, the place you meet at, who you meet with, what you study when you meet, etc. Without consistency it is very difficult to facilitate meaningful growth.
3) Keep the Focus on Christ

Any body of Christians that does not keep their focus on Christ and His mandate for them loses the potency of His saving grace. No matter what you do as a small group (or as an individual), the purpose is to give Christ glory, to know and love Him and His people more, and to point back to God.

This doesn't mean that every single small group has to be a Bible study with intense prayer or worship. It just means that the intention and purpose of your identity and activities as a small group need to be about and for Christ and His love if you want to keep them at their peak efficacy.

4) Flexibility, Imagination, and Insight

These three traits all pertain to one goal: keeping a diverse body of people growing together. Most small groups, even of people the same age, have different spiritual maturities, likes, dislikes, interests, and understandings of God. In order to allow everyone to grow, you're going to have to follow your curriculum or study flexibly, come up with creative questions to stimulate everyone, and use insight to determine how the group dynamics can be best utilized for growth in Christ.

These traits are also necessary for when a group starts going through different seasons. Tragedies and celebrations tend to happen spontaneously, and if your group can respond well to the ebb and flow of life, they will be more equipped to grow together.

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