We’ve all been there. It’s a Wednesday night. If you’re a volunteer, you may have already put in an 8-10 hour day at your job. If you’re church staff, you’ve probably been at the church all day. Either way, you’re exhausted. The youth pastor tells you about the crazy games that will be happening at youth group tonight. They sound great, but you’re not really needed for that game so you find your spot along the wall with the other SGLs. After all, the youth pastor has it under control.

Let’s pause it right there.

You know what I’m talking about. Either you’ve seen other volunteers do that, or you’ve done it yourself. But I just want to encourage you! Don’t be that guy (or girl). One of the most important roles that we, as leaders, play within the context of our large group gathering is to interact with the students.

Sure, you have had a couple conversations with students during the “hang out” time, but are you really interacting? Are you really leading by example?

Below are three areas that you, as a SGL, need to be interacting with and leading by example.

  1. Games

Play the games. Are they silly? Yeah. Are they fun? Most of the time. Will they point someone to Jesus? Unlikely. Could it change alter the trajectory of the night for a student? Very possibly! Games are not (at least they shouldn’t be) the point of our youth group meetings, but they play a valuable role. They create a welcoming, fun environment that begins to knock down walls in order to students to be open to the words of Jesus.

  1. Worship

Engage in worship. Maybe musical worship isn’t the way that you most connect with God, but for many, it is. I’m not saying you need to raise your hands, close your eyes, and run up and down the aisles. All that I’m saying is to lead by example. If you are sitting in the back of the room, not interested in worship, then you can bet that students, who look to you for guidance, will likely follow suit.

  1. Teaching

So maybe your youth pastor isn’t the most engaging communicator. We can’t all be Andy Stanley! But they still deserve your attention. You may learn something! And if you are ambitious, you may even feel led to take notes. This is another area where your students will do as you do. If you are playing on your phone during the teaching, more than likely, they will disengage as well.

SGLs are the backbone of many youth ministries. I know that we couldn’t do the ministry that we do without our small group pleaders. My encouragement to you today is to engage with your students. Play the games. Engage in worship. Listen to the teaching. Lead by example. You may just find that you connect with your few on a whole new level!

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Johnathan Baldwin

Johnathan is a student ministries pastor from Indiana who loves youth ministry, sports, summertime, great coffee (depending on the situation, not so great coffee works too), my dog (Marcie), and as of lately a good book. Over the past couple years, Johnathan has felt a growing passion for guiding and empowering leaders to lead students. He believes that if we call people to greatness, they will achieve greatness.

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