Over five years ago we started having high school students lead small groups in our 5th and 6th grade program. Since then we’ve expanded to allow them to lead the rest of the middle school students in our 7th and 8th grade ministry. This decision for us started out of a need for small group leaders in general; however, has bared much fruit over the years. What we’ve seen is that the high school students who lead small groups:
Act Like Leaders In Their Own Small Group – They’ll see what their adult leaders go through in leading them; therefore, they’ll make sure to move the conversation along.
Become Role Models For Their Younger Peers – While you want to connect your teens to an adult, sometimes you need a liaison. That is what a high school student can be for a middle school student.
Develop As Student Leaders In The Church – Just as you pass vision onto your adult leaders, you will pass it on to your teens. When they capture the vision there is no telling what they will do with it.
But it’s not as simple as putting a high school student in charge of a group. On top of what you do for your adult leaders, you need to make sure that you are partnering up your high school students with an adult accountability partner. By doing this the high school student receives support when it comes to:
Talking With Parents – It can be intimidating for a high school student to approach the parent of a teen in their small group. An adult will give them affirmation, hold them accountable to acting maturely and back them up if a parent is unsure how to interact with their child’s leader.
Serving Hurting Kids – When teens trust you they open up and sometimes what we hear can be overwhelming. On top of the emotions that come with serving hurt teens there can be liability issues, if an adult is not informed.
Growth In Their Own Faith Journey – Just as your responsibility is to encourage your adult leaders to grow, this adult mentor can hold the high school students to do the same. That might mean making sure they are plugged into their own small group, reading scripture and finding quiet time with God.
High school students leading small group for middle school students will raise the bar on their faith journey. It gives them responsibility and accountability to another person’s faith formation. High school small group leaders is another example of growing disciples, growing other disciples and isn’t that what we are trying to achieve?
Do you have high school students leading small groups? Are you for this idea or against it? Why?
Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more about his ministry and life on his excellent blog Marathon Youth Ministry.