Reason #195 Why We Love Small Groups

Like typical small group leaders our volunteers give time each week to meet with their small groups.  They take time before the small group meeting time to review the questions that will be used during the discussion time.  They show up at ball games and concerts and special occasions.  They send “we missed you” and “praying for you” texts.

They show up and are a consistent presence in the lives of students.

Then, sometimes, our small group leaders go above and beyond.

It’s just another reason why we love small groups.

One of our area high schools was having a Winter Formal Dance.  Students make plans, for the evening: buy tickets, determine what they are going to wear, find a date (if necessary) or arrange details with their group of peers, select a restaurant to eat and, of course, take a number of pictures.

This year some of our small group leaders decided to host our group of students for dinner.  Rather than the students picking a restaurant and making reservations to go out to eat, our small group leaders, in the words of one of our students, created a “homemade 5 star restaurant.”

The leaders met them at the door and took their coats.  They offered them appetizers and a menu.  The students were served beverages while being asked how they would like their steaks prepared.  A tasty meal was served and dessert was provided.  On the way out the door, students were offered a beverage for the road – “Mexican Coke” (Coca Cola served in glass bottles and made with cane sugar) – it’s a favorite of several of our students.

Our small group leaders went the extra mile to create a fun dining experience for our students prior to their arrival at the school dance.

Here’s what a couple of the parents posted on Facebook following the dinner:

“Seeing your son and his friends going to a dance and having their small group leaders offer to make them dinner makes me thankful!”

“Winter Formal. Blessed to have wonderful small group leaders who were willing to provide and serve dinner to this good-looking crew.”

I know that there are countless small group leaders serving in churches all over the globe.

But I think our small group leaders are pretty great!

This is just another reason why we love small groups (and our small group leaders)!

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Just Say Thank You

thanksHow many times have parents needed to remind their children of the “magic words” – please and thank you? My wife regularly prompts us to say thank you, whether to a coach, a server at a restaurant or whoever purchased the meal on that day. Not only is it good manners, scientific research is showing there is real benefit in expressing gratitude.

I try to write occasional personal thank you’s to volunteers. Even if someone isn’t being paid for a service, a heart-felt thank you can go a long way.

Dr. Robert Emmons, from the University of California Davis, and his team have done research on the role gratitude. They have learned that people who view life as a gift and consciously acquire an “attitude of gratitude” experience multiple advantages. “Gratitude improves emotional and physical health, and can strengthen relationships and communities.”

In explaining his research, Dr. Emmons wrote, “Scientists are latecomers to the concept of gratitude. Religions and philosophies have long embraced gratitude as an indispensable manifestation of virtue, and an integral component of health, wholeness, and well-being.”

Another great reminder to all of us to just say thank you!

Ode To Youth Pastors…and Volunteers! (a repost)

I subscribe to Mark Batterson’s blog and thought today’s post was good.  I would also make sure to include volunteer youth workers in this as well.  While the “paid guy” is important, that person cannot do it alone.  Without a good team of volunteers, ministry to students is pretty limited.

So, if you are a youth pastor or volunteer, THANK YOU for what you do.  Let this post remind you of the role you play in the lives of students.  Sometimes we need to hear this.

Here’s my ode to youth pastors! And this isn’t really a tribute from a pastor. It’s a tribute from a dad.  I didn’t fully appreciate the role you play in the kingdom until my kids were in your youth group!  If kids are most open to the gospel during their developmental teens years, then youth ministry is the frontlines of the kingdom.  It is where the battle is won or lost.  It is where habits are formed. It is where decisions are made.  Don’t we need our most passionate, most gifted, most Spirit-filled, most loving leaders on the frontlines?

Youth ministry is not a stepping stone to something else. It never was. It never will be.  It is where the action is.  There are kids who are contemplating suicide–they need you to discern it.  There are kids who are struggling with sexual orientation or sexual purity–they need you to speak truth.  There are kids who are trying to decide where they land spiritually–they need you to preach the gospel, live the gospel.

Just so we’re clear: It’s not your job to disciple my kids. That’s my job as a parent.  But I’m so grateful that I have someone to tag-team with.  There are times that my kids need a “third-party” to say what I’ve been saying their entire life.  They won’t hear me, but they might hear you.

So go ahead and dress cool and act cool.  Pull the all-night events and pull crazy stunts.  Laugh with the kids like crazy!  But don’t forget that you are first and foremost a prophet in the life of my child.  That’s what matters.  Don’t cower before a politically-correct culture.  Speak the truth boldly, lovingly, prophetically.  Get in their face. Get in their life.  Challenge them to dream big and pray hard.  They are capable of far more than we can imagine!