Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who seems to be interested in everything going on in the room… except what you have to say? I get the feeling that as small group leaders we are tempted to do this a lot. We get in a conversation with a student and engage enough to keep his or her interest, but we are simultaneously giving our attention to what’s going on in the room, a co-leader, and, of course, our phones.

I’m afraid this happens all too often in small group.

We must be so present in our conversations with students that they walk away convinced they matter. 

Jesus had a knack for making people feel important. A perfect example of this is in Mark 5. Jesus is in the midst of a large crowd and without warning, He stopped and asked who touched him. The disciples were a little frustrated… “A lot of people were touching you.” But Jesus was adamant. Someone touched him.

The woman that touched him–enduring chronic medical issues–stepped forward and confessed. At that moment Jesus listened to her, healed her, and made sure she knew she mattered. For a moment, Jesus made her feel like she was the most important person in the room.

When it comes to making students feel like they matter, being present is key.

Here are 3 keys to being present with your students.

  1. Know and call your students by name. (or nicknames, they LOVE nicknames!) A SGL in our church calls one of his 5th grade boys “Chancy” for no reason whatsoever. “Chancy” loves every second of it.
  2. Make every student feel noticed. Greet your students as soon as they walk into the room. Seek them out instead of making them find you.
  3. Make every student feel like he or she is the only student. When you engage with a single student in group, truly listen. Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked by other things going on in the room. When someone is talking in group, make it a rule that everyone listens.

This is your ministry. Be completely present with just a few so that over time you are able to make a lasting impact.

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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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