Anytime I’m in the presence of collegiate or young adult ministry leaders, I’m always intrigued by the conversations that surface about our ministries.
“What does your large group worship time look like?”
“What are some of the issues you’re tackling in your group gatherings?”
“What type of missions opportunities does your group do?”
Are those relevant and important questions to ask? Absolutely. They’re all aspects of what draws young adults to our ministries and keeps them involved with the ministry as a whole.
However, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the most important part of our ministries to pour significant time and energy into are our small groups and Bible studies. It’s the backbone of the depth and impact a ministry will have.
We can have the best music, the most hip speaker, and the best coffee in town, but if we’re not pointing our college students and young adults toward small groups and Bible study, we’re missing an opportunity to help them understand what being intentional about their walk with Christ is all about.
Let’s face it–we have very little time to process much of anything in our culture today. We’re doing a disservice to our young adults if we’re not offering them the opportunity to gather in small groups to process the larger message they just heard or to dive deeper into Scripture.
Placing a priority on groups within our ministries will address 4 areas of concern for us all.
1. The Importance of Studying Scripture In Depth
By depth, I’m not talking about information. A small group taking a passage of Scripture and walking and praying through it together will promote a deeper understanding of what the Bible says. The foundation for our groups must be God’s Word. Colossians 3:16 says, “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” and when we emphasize the integral aspect of small groups studying and digesting God’s Word, we will see our college students and young adults fall deeply in love with Scripture.
2. A Deep Sense of Community Develops from Groups
When we only focus our ministries on large group settings, we’re not allowing those who attend to get to know others on a deeper level of conversation and friendship. Small groups foster a sense of community that’s essential in our culture today. Having people who we’re able to “do life with” is important. When a ministry emphasizes the importance of being involved with a group, a sense of community develops within the entire ministry.
3. Healthy Groups Foster an Urgency for Outreach and Evangelism
As more college students and young adults fall deeper in love with God’s Word, we’ll see more students passionate about sharing their faith with their friends who are far from Christ. Discipleship and evangelism go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. It’s not an either/or approach, but a both/and in reaching young adults. If you want evangelism and outreach to be an integral part of your ministry, make sure your small groups are strong and focused.
4. Leaders Are Developed
Each small group needs a leader – not an expert, but a leader. Having a number of small groups necessitates having more people involved in leadership roles within our ministries. These leaders could be young adults or college students who you know have a deep desire for Scripture study and want to see others grow in their walk with Christ. This is also an ideal role for other adults in your church to become involved. There’s a significant connection young adults have with those who are older than them. Young adults and college students want to do life with those who have already been through some life experience. Some of your biggest heroes in your ministry will be volunteers who lead small groups.
Oftentimes, we get satisfied with the number of groups that exist within our ministry and forget to challenge our groups to multiply. Take a look at areas of your community that are not being reached and begin a group there. Take a risk, but be committed to multiplying your groups consistently.
As a leader, when you speak of the importance of groups and are involved in a group yourself, you’ll begin to see a significant growth within the college students and young adults in your ministry. You’ll begin to see that groups really do matter.
Mark Whitt is the Collegiate and Young Adult Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. Before joining Lifeway, he spent many years on the campus of Murray State University as a campus minister. Connect with Mark via Twitter.