Original photo by Jah.
It’s the night your small group is meeting and the day has gotten away from you. You didn’t have time to prepare anything. You can’t just walk in turn it into a game night because students come to small group to learn right? What do you do?
Here are 7 things you can always keep in your back pocket when you didn’t have time to prepare a lesson. These should have appropriate boundaries, and as always we need to be careful with what we share.
Share your testimony
I’m convinced there are very few things that are more powerful than your story. Hopefully, you are honest and able to share your life with your students. Tell them what life was like before you met Christ, tell them the transformation Christ has made in you, and tell them what your life is like today. One of the greatest things about being open and vulnerable with your group is it can show them it is OK to be open and vulnerable with you. Encourage them to think about their story and have them share it with the group at some point in the year.
Share your love story
Girls love, love. Guys won’t admit it, but many of them want to have good relationships and will be focused in, too! If you are dating or married, share your love story with them. How did you meet? What did you do? How did you propose? How does that person make you happy? What are difficult things? How does Jesus play a role in your lives? It can easily open up the conversation about love/sex/dating/God and could be a powerful night.
Share an authentic struggle
Everyone struggles. You as a leader, struggle with temptations, sins and pains. If you don’t have something prepared, go in sharing something you genuinely struggle with in your life. Be open. Be honest. Be bold. Then talk about how you are working through it, how God is working in you and areas in your life where you have accountability. It could be a great night to talk about accountability partners and to pray for others who are struggling with certain things as well. Remember this isn’t YOUR small group, you are leading them, but there’s nothing wrong with being honest about life. #realtalk
Share your favorite verse
As we grow in our relationship with God there are certain verses in Scripture that stick out to you more than others. Go into the group and share your favorite verse with them and tell them the story in which why this verse means so much to you. Then ask if anyone else has a go to verse and why. It could be a great way to spend the night at group!
Share Your High School Experience
Now my high school experience wasn’t all that dramatic – but there were some ups and downs that students can relate to. And no matter your story, that doesn’t mean sharing won’t be effective. You going through high school means you have felt like they have felt on some level. You know what its like to have friend groups, teachers, homework, sports and get a chance to share how you handled it all. Good or bad! So share your experience and see what the students in your group think, feel, agree or disagree with. It could be a great insight on what is happening in your student’s schools, too!
Share what you see in them
This type of night can be super powerful. What student does not want their leader to tell them what they see in them and how proud they are of them? I know my own life was changed because a leader looked me in the eyes and told me the future he saw in me. It changed the direction of my life and God was able to work through it. Do the same with your small group!
Have a prayer night
A night of prayer should never be back up plan, obviously. But having a night where you have nothing prepped could be an opportunity for you to talk about prayer and open it up to the group to talk about prayer requests. Who knows, maybe it would open a door to which they see the need for prayer and they will want it a bigger part of the group? Having a night where students are praying for each other never is a bad thing. Allow God to move.
Thoughts? Push back?
Josh Griffin is the High School Pastor at Saddleback Church and is a co-founder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com, a place to get trench-tested, inexpensive, downloadable youth ministry resources. Follow him @joshuagriffin.