Can I be completely transparent for a minute? I’m a NextGen Pastor at an amazing church where I get to recruit, train and deploy hundreds of volunteers who invest in the lives of kids and students every week. We’ve created an environment where “Leading Small” is the way we do ministry and it’s incredibly rewarding to see the life-change that happens in this kind of context. However, my motivation shifted just a few years ago and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I have a seven-year old son and a two-year old daughter. My son, Titus begins the first grade in just a few weeks and I’m a little nervous about it. At my church, he will officially promote to an elementary small group in August. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited about this new season. He’s going to grow more in his faith in this next season than he has leading up to this time. However, I’m very anxious about what group he’s going to end up in. We have a couple of great 1st grade small group leaders at his service and we’re still recruiting a few more. I know that who he ends up with matters in a huge way (Yes, I do get to pick… one of the privileges of being in charge, right?)

I have several friends who are a little further down the road than I am right now and I know that things are only going to get more complicated and challenging and this is why what happens in a few months is so important. Is my son’s small group leader going to lead this group for the next 3-5 years? Is this person going to call out my son’s strengths and help him grow in his weaknesses? Is he going to reinforce the things that matter to my family? Is he going to live his life in a way that inspires my son?

As a NextGen Pastor, this is what I want of all my small group leaders. As a dad, this is what I need. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make sure this happens because you don’t always get second chances with your kids.

As you read this, you’ll probably detect a little bias. Am I as passionate about every group that I try to place small groups over? You got me. I’m just being transparent about my own anxiousness.

However, you’re a small group leader. Although the moms or dads of the few you lead may not be as passionate about your role in their kids life, it doesn’t change how much you matter. Your role is critical.

  • How well do you know the kids in your group?
  • Do you know their strengths? Do you help bring them out?
  • Do you know their weaknesses? Are you helping them to grow in these areas?
  • Are you reinforcing the parents of your few? Do you help moms and dads win?
  • Are you living a life beyond reproof? Are you setting an example that is worth following?

Because of my job, I know that these are the things my son needs in a small group leader. Few parents will pull you aside and ask you to be these things for their child. Maybe no one will. That doesn’t matter though, because you know it now. Do this and your few will never be the same.

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Kenny Conley

Kenny Conley, a 15-year veteran of Children’s Ministry, currently serves as the NextGen pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, Texas. His passion to see the next generation come to know and follow Christ propels him to constantly rethink how the church approaches ministry to kids and their families. Kenny loves to network and collaborate with ministry leaders around the world to push ministry to new levels. He lives in Texas with is wife Sara and children, Titus and Genevieve.

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