I love salsa–especially really hot salsa. I am talking the habanero type of salsa. It will literally make your neck, throat, tongue, and forehead sweat in delicious—and slightly painful—bliss.

Anyways, I digress.

Bottom line: I seriously could eat 5lb of chips and salsa every day. But one of the most frustrating things when getting ready to eat my chips and hot salsa is opening the jar of salsa. I always have a problem opening this jar. Either the salsa has crusted on the jar (yes–gross I know) and created glue on the jar lid so you cannot get it open OR the jar lid is so tight on the jar I can get it to move… at all.

See the few in our small groups are like my hard to open hot salsa jars. Regardless of how I hard I tried to open them up I will most likely fail.

Until I found this great life hack on how to open very tight jars here. Now I have a pretty great percentage of not failing when opening my salsa jar.

Now that I know how to successfully open hard to open jars, how can one explore how to get our students to open up?

Getting students to open up in small group can be difficult. But can we blame them?

See most student’s don’t open up because…
Of their personality type
they don’t want their peers and adults to see what’s inside
they don’t like themselves or talking about themselves
they have never had a safe, comfortable environment to openly talk
or they don’t know how to explain how they feel.

The great thing is our few have a safe, comfortable environment in our small groups. But we must move our few to open up. Most carry secrets and don’t have a place to open up, which damages them emotionally and spiritually. Our few need a leader who can push them in conversations to talk.

They need to know that they can trust you.

If we as SGL’s want to keep moving our few in a better direction we must engage them in honest and meaningful dialogue.

Every teenager needs someone they don’t have to lie to.

So how do we begin to cultivate a group that talks openly and honestly?

I would like to share with you one “hack” on how to get your students talking at the very beginning of group: Engage them emotionally by consistently asking them three simple questions right at the beginning of group each week.


In the past week, what’s one thing that made you…




These three questions hit at the range of emotions starting from negative and moving to positive.  Make sure to start with mad and end with glad. You want to keep things positive.

To get your students talking about spiritual stuff first start talking about their emotional stuff.

Be consistent every group.

Invite all students to answer ALL of the three questions.

Answer first to model how to answer these three questions.

Pray for the things that are making them mad, sad, and glad at the end of group.

Give it a shot for a month and see how these three questions create a place where your students start talking.

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Jeremy holds a B.A. in Communication from University of Minnesota as well as a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has a passion for connecting with and learning from student pastors, deliberatively researching, reading, and blogging about student ministry and family ministry, dabbling with online technology and experimenting in ministry lifestyle design and productivity in the church. Jeremy and his wife, Mikaela, live in Alpharetta, Georgia, where he serves as an Orange Specialist with the XP3 Student team.

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