Sometimes people ask me stuff. And I like to answer them here on the ol’ bloggy. This does not mean that I know everything about everything. I’m just sharing my opinions and experiences.
Today’s post is about one of the very best parts of my life right now: my Cross Point small group!
The question comes from a lovely reader named Jess.
I just started a small group with girls from the university that I live a couple blocks from…. Any tips or lessons you have learned working with college students you can pass along? Stuff that works? Stuff that hasn’t?
What does work: feeding them.
What doesn’t work: being selfish.
You’re welcome. Y’all have a great day.[insert cricket sounds here]
Ok, I kid. I’ll give a better answer than that.
You know what is awesome about college students? They are figuring out how to be adults. And if you choose to pour some of your life into them at that place, you are shaping adults. No pressure. But whoa- that’s awesome.
As previously stated, I do NOT know everything about college ministry or small groups or what-have-you, but I will share a few of the things that I think make for a successful college small group.[PS- these are practical tips... not so much spiritual tips. But I would say pray pray pray and ask God how to uniquely lead your group as you all work to grow closer to the Lord and each other.]
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1. Invite them into your home. Because many of my girls don’t know any adults in this town, they had only been in dorm rooms before coming over to my house! How sad! Part of leading a college small group is giving them a safe place that feels like a real home.
2. Feed them. Seriously. It doesn’t have to be a whole meal, dessert and coffee is fine, but let the girls eat. And if your girls are anything like my girls, they will have no shame in eatin’ up. [I like that about my people.]
3. Connect with them individually. I try to get coffee with each of my girls once a month or so. They need to know that I feel personally committed to their growth and health and life [because I do]. Sit with them, listen to them, hear them, hug them, pray for them.
4. Connect them to each other, not just to you. Once a month, my girls write notes to each other- we draw names out of a bowl. It’s important that they grow to love and trust each other as much as they love and trust me. I also paired them up one week and they had to pray for each other and get together for coffee. The goal is to grow the friendships in the group.
5. Build trust. From day 1, they need to know they are in a safe place to talk about their life. Make sure the culture of your group is a culture of trust. That building process looks different for everyone and isn’t always easy, but it is super important.
6. Do stuff outside of your normal meetings. Last week, there was a worship night in town and our group went together. You have to earn the right to be heard [thank you Drew Hill for teaching me that!] and a great way to do that is to invest time doing fun stuff together- picnics, fro yo, concerts, whatever.
7. Know your boundaries. Early on, I told the girls this truth: “I will say no when I need to say no.” – either because I have other stuff going on or because I want to stay home or whatevs. The best thing you can be for them is healthy – including in relationships outside of your small group. Don’t make them your life. [It helps that I'm 12 years older than my chickadees, so they don't always want me hanging out. I can dig that.] This includes time boundaries- my girls know when we start and know when they have to go home.
8. Be real. Be you. Be honest. It is hard for me to share when I’m struggling through something, but it is important too. But keep #7 in mind… share with your small group, live openly before them, but have boundaries with what you share.
My best advice as for the “don’ts” of small grouping? Don’t be selfish. This commitment, at times, is a sacrifice. And that’s okay. Give for the girls and they will learn to give. Let the opportunities to serve in uncomfortable ways sharpen you.
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I hope that helps, Jess!
I know there are tons of y’all out there who lead small groups as well. How about you toss a tip into the comment section? I’d love to learn more about being a good leader of any age small group, books to read about discipleship, sermons to listen to, etc. Let’s get tip-tastic today in the comments!
If anyone else has questions for a future “Ask AnnieBlogs” post, bring it! Nashville? Writing? Singleness? Glitter? Leave a comment here or email me at annieblogs [at] gmail [dot] com.