Weeks after reading the book Playing for Keeps, one statement is still rattling around in my brain. The book says,

Stories are just another one of God’s brilliant ideas to connect us to what really matters.

As a small group leader, isn’t this really my main objective? To connect kids to what really matters? It’s the bottom line for why any of us want to work with kids. It’s the burden parents carry. It’s the reason behind why churches do so much for kids these days. They want to connect them to something bigger than themselves.

As a small group leader the stories that God has weaved through your life are an essential tool to making this divine connection happen in your group. But which stories do you share? How much of the story do you tell? After all, the story you tell a grade schooler might (and probably should) look different from the one you would tell a college student over coffee. Here are some helpful ways to begin to connect kids to what really matters, using your own stories:

  • Tell the truth. If you begin to tell a fabricated cautionary tale about that “one time I stole a cookie from the cookie jar…”, please stop. It’s much more helpful to tell a story from your life that is actually true, and not made up about something kids often do at home.
  • Keep it clean. These are kids and they don’t need all the details. Your crazy story about running away from home and living with your girlfriend in a gutter somewhere isn’t necessary. The very same story could be told, just highlighting the time that you made a severely unwise choice, and you still have to live with the consequences of it.
  • Be sincere. This is the step past just being honest. Kids are really good at detecting insincerety, and telling a story that moves you to tears can be a powerful motivator towards helping everyone feel like this is a safe place.

I believe, as a small group leader, God has specifically shaped your story to allow you to reach those that need to hear it. Think about the stories you have to share. Think about those who need to hear them. Tell the truth. Keep it clean. And be sincere.






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Jonathan Cliff is a huge advocate for families and believes that the family can be God's primary way of reaching the world that they live in. Jonathan and his wife, Starr, have a full house with two sons, Ryan and Dylan, and one daughter, Lauryn. They have also served as foster parents for many kids over the years, and have a great passion for broken families being restored.

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