Let's cancel small groups!

Let’s set the scene - You’ve put your time as well as some blood, sweat and tears into preparing a transformational and unmissable small group bible study for a group of students. You’ve sent the important details - time, place, venue etc. a few days before. Everyone’s excited and looking forward to the night. Fast forward to the evening of small group. You turn up to the venue 15 minutes early, waiting for the students to arrive. 7:30pm (aka Christian o’clock) arrives and the first eager student arrives on time, if not a few minutes early. You go through the niceties as you wait for the other members to turn up. Five minutes go by. You offer the student a cuppa and food but they decline (unusual for the student species, they normally lap up free food), so you sit chatting and waiting in hope for others to show. Ten minutes go by.. After 20 minutes of small talk, you both realise that no-one else is showing up.

Does this scenario sound familiar? It’s happened to me more times than I can count. But now comes the difficult decisions as small group leader that you sometimes have to make without much processing time:

Do you go ahead with the planned bible study that will perhaps make the student feel like it’s more of an interrogation than a chilled discussion with others? Or do you throw in the towel, cancel the night and both go home early? 

Both of these options crossed my mind when trying to figure out what to do when this situation happened myself. But then the eureka moment happened. I remembered that I had a discipleship deck stored upstairs. I excused myself quickly to run and grab the deck. 

The student recognised it from Soul Survivor and their face lit up as I brought it in. We proceed to play it for the next hour and a half, picking out cards randomly and answering each question in turn. Instead of staying in that surface level, kinda awkward 1-1 conversation, the discipleship deck opened up deeper and more vulnerable conversations, highlighting areas of the student‘s life that God had been speaking into recently, which in turn allowed me to ask follow up questions and have the permission to follow up and keep them accountable. 

Odds are that if I powered on with my original plan for the evening, it may not have been as fruitful a conversation with the one student than whipping out the discipleship deck.. Sometimes listening to and discerning what the Holy Spirit is prompting can change the atmosphere of a small group no matter how many people are present. Having the discipleship deck on hand was definitely Holy Spirit led. I hadn't planned to whip out the deck that night let alone have one on me, but there happened to be one at the small group venue - a complete God send. 

Discipleship decks are a great tool for getting past that surface level conversation and getting into deeper, more uncomfortable questions that help you grow in your faith. If you find it difficult asking students those more provoking discipleship questions, the discipleship deck is a great way to break those barriers and make it a normality in your student ministry. I’ve seen the difference that the discipleship deck makes first hand and it is a complete game changer. It’s changed the way in which I ask questions in 1-1s and made me more confident in asking those more uncomfortable but needed questions.

We believe in the art of great question asking so we created a tool to help conversations get real, quickly. We want to get the Discipleship Deck into the hands of as many students, Student Workers and Small Group Leaders as possible so for this week only we are offering 10% off, no matter how many you buy!


Mollie Chappell

Student Mission Developer

Mollie started student ministry in her final year of university and is passionate about seeing students discover and grow in their God given callings.

Partner with Mollie