Happy New Year! The holidays have passed, and your youth group is probably already meeting again or will be soon. How do you encourage your small group in the coming months? How can you reestablish consistent encouragement and accountability with your students after a few weeks off?
Over the past few weeks, students have probably checked out of the real world as they were off school, free of homework, alarms, and responsibility (or so they wish). Like teachers, you face the challenge of refocusing your group for the remainder of the school year. Encouraging your students to get back on track is essential because their relationship with Christ is too important to be neglected.
Review and Plan
Take time to review their progress up to this point in order to form a plan for each student in the coming months. For those of you using the Word of Life Fifty1 Student Ministry, go to the Multiply! App to check the progress of the students in your small group (anyone can use this app, but its full features are used best within the Fifty1 curriculum). This review can give you insight into each student’s discipline strengths and areas needing improvement. The start of the new year is a perfect time to tackle areas of weakness together with a plan for growth. Remember, your goal is to help them grow closer to Jesus one step at a time. Don’t let the reality that growth takes time discourage you or your students. Press on!
Two to three weeks is a long time in the life of a student. Be sure that you reach out and connect with each one in your small group. Do they know when youth group is meeting next? Do they know that you are going to be there and are anticipating seeing them again? Remind them to bring their Quiet Time and Bible to your next gathering. Initiating the conversation will help to communicate their value to the group and to you. It would be a shame for a student not to come back simply because the start date was never communicated. Considering the world’s current circumstances, you may also need to communicate changes to your meeting, such as mask requirements, virtual vs. in person, and any other schedule changes.
First Meeting Back
During your first youth group gathering back together, be sure to arrive early. Make a concerted effort to individually welcome each of your students. This would be a fantastic time to discuss the following:
- How was their Christmas?
- What was the highlight of their break?
- Were they able to have any gospel conversations with family members using the Cause Circle?
- Did they make any New Year’s resolutions for spiritual growth?
You could also discuss this during your actual small group time. In addition, reaffirm your desire to see them grow closer to Jesus this year. Then spend time praying for one another’s spiritual growth in 2021.
For the past 10 years, Dustan has ministered with Word of Life serving youth leaders in Ohio and West Virginia. Dustan, and his wife Beth, have three children: Peter (7), Anna (5), and Emmett (3). Dustan enjoys the Steelers and endless dad jokes.