Jesus’ mission was not outworked solely by himself; he gathered a small group of unlikely disciples to partner with Him as he brought the good news of God’s Kingdom. We can see in Acts 2:42-47 the early church regularly met in small groups in people’s homes. These communities were dedicated to following God and deepening fellowship with one another; they were radically generous and caring for the needy; they saw incredible miracles and many people saved.
Small groups are just as vital in extending God’s Kingdom today among the current generation of students.
With students beginning to settle, as Student Workers and student leaders you may start to focus on your small groups or indeed wonder how they could be empowered and equipped in your church. So this is a great time to recognise why small groups are important in the context of student mission and ministry!
Firstly, they are groups where students can build community and make a home in your church. By creating space where smaller groups of students can connect away from the Sunday service, it allows them to feel welcome, gives them permission to participate in what is happening, and go deeper in relationship with each other. Wherever they are in their faith journey, being part of such a community enables students to feel needed and known.
Small groups are also communities where students can join one another to worship God. They can be a space where students invite God to move powerfully among them, fostering greater intimacy with him, as they embolden each other to praise him full of creativity and expectation. They are also an incredible environment in which students can study the Word, going deeper in their understanding and experience of God as they grasp scripture together and apply it to their lives.
Small groups can be missional communities where students are sent out to be witnesses for Jesus, helping bring renewal to their campuses. They can be places where students who don’t know Jesus encounter him for the first time. Small groups also allow for multiplication, helping churches facilitate more spaces where people can find community and explore faith. As such, they create brilliant opportunities for students to be released in their gifts and passions, explore what God is calling them to, and lead for the first time.
Having vision for student small groups, whatever form they may take, that are Jesus centred and outward looking can have a transformative impact on students’ discipleship and the lives of those around them.
So what can you be doing now? Whether you are hoping to launch small groups or have already started some, here are some suggestions about what steps you can be taking to make sure they thrive this academic year.
Pray: Ask God to give you vision about what small groups could be like for students; pray with your team that God will bless and use them in amazing ways.
Plan ahead: Set aside time this term to think through the practicalities of how small groups will run. This will set them up well going forwards!
Involve your students: Make sure students are contributing to the conversation about small groups. This will give them greater ownership and vision, raising their expectations.
Chat with church leaders: Keep your church leaders or overseers in the loop. The more they are backing you the greater freedom and confidence you will have in the small group model you want to pioneer.
Develop potential leaders: Which students do you think could be released into leading a small group? How can you start developing them as leaders? Here are some helpful tips!
Fusion offers brilliant resources and dynamic training when it comes to equipping students to participate in and lead missional and unmissable small groups. You can get in contact with firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like us to come and deliver small groups training with your students. You can also grab a copy of our Small Group, Big Mission workbook and check out some of our online resources.
*Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash.