Do you have small group leaders who wouldn’t dream of missing time with their kids on Sunday? Seeing those kinds of invested relationships doesn’t just happen by slapping a new label on an old volunteer role or even by starting a well intentioned huddle on Sundays. You need a strategy for creating intentional small groups with a consistent leader and the same peers each week to have maximum impact.

Our task is to provide a safe space where kids can find their “tribe.” The friends our kids spend time with will ultimately influence their decisions in life. Without a solid plan, our ministry hour can run the risk of feeling like slightly organized chaos rather than intentional small group ministry. Here are three tips to help maximize the structure of your groups so that relationships can take root.

1. Get them organized
For multiple service churches, a small group registration process that encourages parents to choose a service hour to consistently bring their children will maximize your impact. After receiving a registration, you can assign a child to a small group leader at a specific hour instead of a “room”. This allows you to create group rosters for your small group leaders, celebrate birthdays and really deepen the relationship factor.

For single service and smaller churches, use a more “organic” approach. Put up hooks near your ministry entrance and hang 10 lanyards, of various colors, on each hook to represent each small group. Once those lanyards are completely distributed as kids check in, that color group is at max capacity. Kids will organically gravitate toward the same group week after week. When that happens, you can make the assignment “official” with a group roster as was mentioned with the registration method.

*TIP: Be sure you communicate (multiple times) to parents who their child’s small group leader is. Chances are pretty high their son or daughter won’t keep them in the loop. (Yes, I’m speaking from experience as a mom of boys!)

2. Keep it Small
Ideal ratios are 8-10 kids to 1 small group leader.   If a small group grows beyond 10 kids consistently, multiply the group into 2 new groups. If a group has more than 12 on a Sunday, split the group up for the day to help your volunteer not feel overwhelmed. Anything beyond 12 is chaos management and will be very frustrating for your small group leader. Consider dividing your small groups by gender for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade. Depending on your attendance, you might need a 3rd through 5th grade girls group or boys group to keep the ratios at 1:8-10.

3. Give Visitors a Separate Experience.
Especially for multiple service churches or groups of over 50, consider a separate small group experience for your visitors, “flip floppers” or kids who are not quite consistently plugged into a group. A flip flopper is a student registered for a small group experience during a specific hour but for various reasons, shows up at a different service time.

These “On Deck” small group leaders will have a heart for the first time visitor and will be able to pay extra attention to connecting with them. On Deck leaders can also monitor who is coming consistently week to week which will help determine when a new intentional small group should form out of the On Deck experience.
(Note: Guests attend with their friend. Visitors would be included in an On Deck Group.)

The way you organize your small group experience can help elevate your message that consistency is important.

I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts on this! Comment Below with how are you organizing your group experience.