The new set-up for our SS small groups had an awesome first week. Both teachers and students were excitedly RAVING about how much more discussion took place than normal, how much fun everyone had with it, and how much they learned. Ah, what a relief!
I actually had a youth pastor call get a hold of me from off here because he was wanting to do systematic theology with his student ministry, but he saw that we had done it and that we were moving away from it. It’s true. We’re experimenting with another direction, but not because the systematic theology studies didn’t work. They worked great, our students enjoyed them, and I loved teaching them. But this new set-up really seems to be what we’ve been missing in our student ministry: growing community fellowships.
We have made the switch as an experiment. We were highly academic, highly focused, and highly complex when it came to Sunday school. We’re trying a more relaxed approach now. Everything is revolving around our students learning the whole Bible. Averaging about 5 chapters a week, our students read the assigned passages for themselves, I preach on them during our Wednesday night worship service, and then they come back that Sunday to discuss everything they learned. We ask the BIG THREE questions: What is the story of the passages? How do the passages point us to Jesus Christ? How do the passages apply to our lives?
I asked our teachers and students how the first small groups class went of this new discussion format. Everyone was RAVING about how well it went! Apparently all the way from 7th grade guys to 12th grade girls, every class felt like they didn’t have enough time to discuss everything they wanted to talk about. I couldn’t be a more proud youth pastor than to hear the classes truly enjoyed discussing God’s Word together, understanding the storyline, talking about how it applies to Christ, and talking about the life take-away they get from the passages. So cool! Of course the adult SS small group leaders didn’t just ask those three questions. Here are some other ideas I have them…
- Listen: Let your class talk a few minutes and just listen to them, listen to their weekend, listen to their lives, listen to their week.
- Prayer: Ask for prayer requests before you start the discussion.
- Accountability: Ask your class if they did their Bible reading, how their prayer life went this week, who they’ve witnessed to, and about their relationship with Christ.
- Discussion: Ask the BIG 3 QUESTIONS along with other questions that sparked in your mind during your reading. Don’t be afraid if they get off track a little. Listen to where their minds and conversations are going, and try to take a wide facilitating turn back to the Word.
- Prayer: Ask for prayer requests again, but this time ask them to be specifically from what you’ve studied and discussed that morning. Ask how yall can be praying for each other, and how yall can be praying for the student ministry through the passages. And take time to pray together!
In fact, I’ll just attach the whole email for you youth pastor who may be considering a similar direction. But just to reemphasize…this last week went incredible! The teachers were excited. The students were stoked. I’m so happy. And I believe that God is truly glorified. I couldn’t be more thankful for a glorious God, faithful teachers, and awesome students.