Does it Matter or Not?

Last week I completed my fourteenth year as a leader in student ministry.  Fourteen is not a number we often celebrate in our culture, but in the world of students it means a lot.  Over the last fourteen years I have watched a class of students come in as squirrely 6th graders and leave as somewhat less squarely seniors, and then repeated the process.  As I’ve pondered what I’ve learned over the last fourteen years, a lot of fun lessons come to mind…

Farting contests are a way of life for 6th grade boys small groups, and sometimes 6th grade girls groups, too.
Watching Rocky IV with your 9th grade group will inevitably lead to a fist fight in your living room.
Man cannot live on bread alone, but pizza maybe.
At some point your group is going to be physically stronger than you, and they will throw you in the snow and pay you back for anything you have ever done to them leading up to that point.

Everything Matters

Fortunately, I have also learned some meaningful lessons.  Above all else I’ve learned that everything you do as a Small Group Leader matters.

Every kind, encouraging word….matters.
Every hour spent building a relationship with a student, earning the right to speak truth…matters.
Every crisis walked through with a student…matters.
Every game, concert, match, meet, or ceremony attended…matters.
Every conversation with a parent…matters.
Every hard truth spoken in love…matters.
Every sacrifice made…matters.

Nothing Matters…unless

While no effort we make on behalf of a student is wasted, I’ve also learned over and over again that our efforts don’t truly matter unless the love, grace, peace and truth of Christ is flowing through us.  I know this, and yet I regularly forget that without Him my efforts are in vain.  I am grateful that in these moments He is faithful and good despite me.  I am also grateful that He continues to use me despite my shortcomings and failures.

As I think about the next fourteen years I hope to have a lot of fun.  I hope that my efforts make a difference.  But, more than anything my prayer is that more and more I will do “what matters” through “Him who truly matters”.  My hope for you is the same.

As you think through your ministry with students, does this resonate with you?  If so, how do you regularly remind yourself of this?

Jon Grunden July 16th, 2014 0 comments

College Whiplash

She looked at me with tears in her eyes. “I just feel like such a failure,” she told me.

It was the middle of what should have been her second semester, sophomore year and she was no longer at college. For some reasons beyond her control (and some very much within her control) she had been forced to drop out of her dream school and

Lauren Terrell June 9th, 2014 2 Comments

The Art of Small Talk

The start of small group is one of the most challenging segments of the group time. Starting a meaningful and spiritual discussion in the first few minutes of group is like trying to herd cats.  You know what I am talking about, don’t you?

The large group talk just got done and you get back to your small group room and your students are either

Jeremy Zach March 26th, 2014 1 comment

Intentional Affirmation

Whoever said, “Sticks and stones may broke my bones, but words will never hurt me”, flat out lied.

Words do hurt and definitely matter…. especially when it comes to teenagers.  You would be surprised how much students in your group crave authentic affection and affirmation! In Playing for Keeps, Reggie Joiner writes that "a few select words over time can impact someone's direction in life."

Jeffrey Wallace March 19th, 2014 0 comments

A Case of Frustration

For the past twelve years I have led a male small group.  Over the years I have learned a few tricks and a few bad habits on how to lead a group of guys. But I have noticed that over the past few years, I have become more impatient with my few.  I easily get frustrated if a few of my guys aren’t growing in

Jeremy Zach February 26th, 2014 0 comments

Slow and Steady

We’ve all heard the saying, “slow and steady wins the race”, but if you’re like me, that's not an exciting way to go.  I mean, fast and furious is more fun and you are likely to get to your finish line quicker that way, right?  Not so much.  There is a lot of wisdom in the old story of the tortoise and the hare.


Kristie McCollister February 18th, 2014 0 comments

Will February Ever End?

It’s February, and in my part of the country we have already experienced 89” of snowfall this winter.  In fact as I look out the window right now, there are massive piles of snow everywhere, and according to the local news, more snow on the way this evening.  I don’t tell you this to complain, I just simply wanted you to know that my city’s

Jon Grunden February 12th, 2014 2 Comments

Hold On

Rough Beginnings

My first year as a small group leader was not exactly what I expected.  After completing a volunteer application that was thorough enough to qualify me for top level security clearance, I showed up to a dark room in the corner of the church ready to transform lives and take names.  If you have worked with student groups for any period of time,

Jon Grunden January 22nd, 2014 1 comment

Being Gotten

I was at a wedding recently. It was a great wedding. Great Bride...whom I know and love. Great Groom...whom I met at the wedding. Great that I watch and learn from every time we get together.
But, I've got to be honest. My attentions were not on the couple.

I spent the weekend watching and wondering about what was going on in the mind

Tom Shefchunas January 15th, 2014 1 comment

Ofie Gonifie

As a small group leader you have to get used to hearing bad news.

When you are doing life with people over time… life happens. And, if you’ve done a good job of creating a safe place you will hear people share their hurts, pains, disappointments, and frustrations.

Have you ever thought about how you will respond to those?

Have you ever thought about the

Tom Shefchunas January 9th, 2014 0 comments