Fall is one of the most electric times on college campuses. Classes are in full swing. Football is celebrated. The marching band is peppy. Students are in the process of transitioning from dependence to independence, teen to adult. Perhaps there is no greater tool for growth for a college student then being a regular part of a healthy small group.
These 6 things can make your small groups better.
1. On-going Group Recruitment. At all points in the semester, students will recognize their need for life in community, intentional spiritual growth, or both. Talk about the benefits of small groups often. Help your groups be open to new participants all along the way, not just the first few weeks of the school year.
2. Leadership Development. Invest in your small group leaders. Love them, hear them and train them. Make sure they know they don't have to be Bible scholars or Who's Who on campus--although they can be. Small group leaders simply need to be living in Jesus and desiring to lead others spiritually through relationships. Your training for small group leaders should simply focus on this.
3. Balance. Small groups need to be balanced with the spiritual and the fun and the spiritually fun. Jesus is our example for doing life in community. He served his small group of 12. He cooked breakfast for his group. He prayed with them and for them. He taught them. He walked with them. He developed them. Such balance.
4. Accountability. Have an easy system for measuring the health of your small groups throughout the semester. Who's coming? Who's not coming, but is staying connected to the leader? Who won't come back to campus after Thanksgiving? What areas come naturally for your leaders (Bible study, prayer, Care, On-going connections)? What areas are a struggle for your leaders?
5. Exit Ramps. Students are more likely to commit to a small group if they know there is an ending time. If the students know the group ends a week or so prior to exams at the
end of the semester, joining will be less intimidating. Many groups will pick back up second semester. Having an ending point and a chance to reenlist each semester puts the student at ease. Some may find a group Freshman year that lasts until graduation. Some may have a different group each semester. Clear starts and stops give students an appealing freedom.
6. Starting and Stopping Time. Have a set time each week to begin and end each group
meeting. This let's a student know their time is valued.
Linda Halfacre Weir served as Baptist Campus Minister at Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe and Florida State University. She later served as Southern Baptists Leader of College
Ministry at Lifeway Christian Resources. Linda currently serves as Director of Adult
Groups for Pinelake Church, a multi-campus church in Mississippi. She has long been considered an expert in collegiate small groups.