Part-Time Youth Pastor, Full-Time Hero: The Small Group You Never Knew You Had

in Coaching on July 24, 2013by clark

(1) I couldn’t find any teachers; (2) I couldn’t find any host homes; and (3) my church was very traditional, so doing bible studies at home instead of at the church was equivalent to desecrating the temple. I felt defeated, and never could establish a Sunday night ministry. I’m sure many of you feel this way, and like me, you thought to yourself, “If only I had a small group ministry, things would be different.” Yet, what if I told you, your youth group can have a stellar small group ministry? What if I told you, you can have a small group ministry up and running in a month? Finally, what if I told you, your youth group already has a small group ministry, but like me, you don’t see it because outside influences have declared this ministry irrelevant when it’s really not?

Well guess what? You do have a small group ministry and it is called Sunday School.

Yes, that’s right, Sunday school is the small group ministry you never knew you had, and it is already primed to be a place for students to connect and grow in your ministry. Think about it: You already have committed teachers, it is already an established part of your ministry structure, and it is already divided for students to connect on a one-on-one basis. The only thing you have to do is see Sunday school as a legitimate small group, and start giving it some love and attention. Here are 4 things you can do to give your Sunday school the small group boost it deserves!

Become discussion oriented

Instead of having your teachers teach the whole time, add in time for question and answers. The best way to do this is move to a master teacher structure. Teach for 20 minutes together as a group, and afterwards, break out into your classes to discuss predetermined questions about the lesson. On top of discussing the lesson teachers and students can share either a “high and a low,” a “good, better, best,” or a “good, bad, and ugly” for the week, plus pray for each other. Do these things and you’ll see your students talking in no time.

Have fellowships

Building memories is essential for students to grow together. In order to do this, have your Sunday school teacher plan fellowships for the group. This gives the group an opportunity to connect outside the walls of the church, and the chance to invite friends to the group. Furthermore, make these fellowships a part of your ministry calendar to show the importance of your small group ministry.

Do missions

One of the best ways for students to grow in their relationship with Christ is to serve. With that in mind, establish a time for your Sunday school classes to do a mission projects together. They can serve in a nursing home, feed the poor, or help an elderly church member with some house chores. These are just one of many serving options your small groups can do together. Moreover, make sure to help your Sunday school teachers with mission project ideas, and connect them to the people they want to serve!

Give students responsibility

One of our goals as student ministers is to help students take ownership of their youth group, and the way to help students take ownership of their small group is to give them some responsibilities. If you have enough students you can make small teams that are responsible for welcoming new students, sending cards that invite new visitors back, helping out with fellowships, leading the closing prayers, or leading the group discussion. Moreover, if you only have a few students in a class, these responsibilities can be assigned to individuals as well. In the end, I wish I saw Sunday school the way I do now, back when I was a bi-vocational student minister. Yet, it is not too late for you. Take the time to invest in Sunday School, and don’t get sucked into the idea that Sunday School can’t be a legitimate part of your student ministry. As always, if you’re interested in developing your Sunday School ministry, and not sure how, feel free to connect with me through Twitter, Facebook, email, or leave a comment so we can dialogue some more. Finally here’s a few more links about Sunday school development called “Going Back to School” I wrote for part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

Do you believe Sunday School still has a place in our current church context? If no, why?

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest) how important is your small group ministry and why?


Zach Gibson at 4:18 pm

Great post. It’s an approach I have considered, but wasn’t sure how to best go about it. Thanks for some good thoughts!

Joshua Fuentes at 4:47 pm

Hey Zach glad I could help!

Keith Parker at 8:12 pm

Great post Josh, always love Sunday School, and think it’s still a viable option for mentoring students. Thanks for the reminder.

Ben Read at 10:14 pm

We’re actually strategizing right now on how to move back into a Sunday School model. It’s kind of funny how Sunday School has become like a Church Leader swearword, but from what I can see, inevitably, we’re all going to end up back in it with a different, edgier name.

Joshua Fuentes at 10:10 am

I think Sunday school is a swear word because people don’t know its purpose. I was the same way too until I finally went through an actual Sunday school training and it all came together for me. In my opinion, the only thing irrelevant about Sunday school is its name. So by all means go with something edgier!

Randi Hom at 3:43 pm

This is an awesome idea! It sounds like it could be the solution we’re looking for. Do you have other regular gatherings other than the Sunday mornings? The reason I ask is because we have two churches (think multi-site) and there is only one of me.

Joshua Fuentes at 3:35 pm

Hey Randi. We meet on Sunday nights and Wednesday evenings as well. However I use to do the teaching before my students went to their classes, but now I have all my teachers on a rotation so I’m not the only one teaching. When our classes start again, I’ll be teaching once every 6 weeks. So maybe having more than one teacher might help you out.


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