What makes a great small group discussion for you? Is it the teens consistently talking? Is it about controversial debates? Is it one teen opening up about a huge issue in their life? What makes a great small group discussion will differ from person to person; however, if what you are talking about isn’t bringing the group closer together and to Christ you might want to rethink structure and content.
While you can’t force deep and engaging conversation there are things you can do to create a framework that will make them possible.
Some of those factors are:
Preparing Your Team In Advance – Not that conversations need to be orchestrated; however, if you want teens to go deeper in certain areas of their faith you need to create a path to lead them down. This means preparing your small group ministers to lead them. Get them the questions out early enough, make sure they don’t have any questions and give them resources to widen their knowledge of the subject.
Setting Up The Right Environment – If teens are uncomfortable they’ll be distracted from engaging in conversation. Make sure the room is clean, comfortable and set up for engaging conversation.
Embracing Silence – If it’s a heavy subject give them the time to process the question. The tendency is to blow through the questions because silence is awkward; however, you might be cutting off a thought, question or idea that will move the discussion to a deeper level.
Gauging The Mood – It might not be the right night to talk about certain subjects; therefore, don’t force it. If there is pushback on a subject ask the teens, “Why?” if they aren’t ready to talk about it, then have the conversation move to something they want to discuss. By gauging the mood you are showing them that you care about what’s on their heart and mind.
Great discussions are ones that move us into a deeper relationship with one another. However, don’t get frustrated if every small group isn’t profound and deep. There are going to be times when you are amazed by what comes forth and others when you feel like a failure. Small groups need to be organic, which means growth. But a small group that grows through discussion is one that will strengthen and last.
What else can create great discussion in small group?
Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.