As a small group leader, one of your primary roles is to partner with parents. How that plays out often depends on your few and the parents of your few. But let’s get a little practical.

My wife and I have just entered into a season where the rubber meets the road. Our seven-year old son is about to join his first elementary small group and we have some high hopes for his first small group leader. Let me give you three things we need most for our son’s small group leader:

A true partnership with us – We may not be like a lot of parents, but we are attempting to be strategic with our kids. We have experiences that we’d like for our son to have by certain times in his life. There are things that he needs to know and concepts and ideas he needs to know before its too late. We recognize that we’ll get more traction if there’s someone else who is helping us. Our expectation is that our son’s small group leader isn’t a Sunday only curriculum reading volunteer, but someone who’s open to going “off book” with our son. We won’t just be takers. Tell us what you need from us and we’re there to help. How can we contribute? We recognize that there are some things that you can do that we can’t. So tell us what we can do for you, because of what your’e doing for us. Can we be partners in this way?

A true community for our son – Friends. Why does this have to be so hard? We’ve got church friends, neighborhood friends, and school friends. Sometimes we get lucky and they overlap. However, we do place some extra value on these church friends, especially at our son’s age. We want him to have friends who encourage his faith. As intentional parents, we’re open to getting to know the parents of some of our son’s friends parents. Community makes things better. As a small group leader, can you help a healthy community develop among your few? This can be hard when kids don’t show up every Sunday. This probably requires participation in camps, special events, and things that happen on days other than Sunday. This probably requires intentionally reaching out to parents. Realize that you’re role in this area is more significant than you realize. Can you make friendships among your few a priority?

A true friendship with our son – There’s something I’ve learned as a parent. Few things make me more proud as a dad than when someone tells me about how much they love one of my kids. Seriously, it’s the best. It’s even better for my kids. I want my son’s small group leader to know my son well. I want him to get my son’s wacky sense of humor. I want him to know his favorite color and more importably, his favorite Star Wars characters. I want to get tired of hearing him tell stories of the things you said in group or what you did at camp that was “so funny!” I want my son to come to church every Sunday not because of a program or event, but because you will be there. My son needs another hero in his life, can you be that to him?

Okay, I know that these things weren’t in the volunteer recruitment flyer you got. Maybe we’re asking too much in all these things, but perhaps if you do a few of these things more often than not, my son has a greater chance of connecting to an authentic faith that matters more than anything.

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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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