The benefits of a small group.
Large group or small group? It is one of the questions many ask in the kids’ ministry world, both for programming and curriculum. There was a time that all I did was large group, but then I started to realize the benefits of a small group.
I think that large groups have an advantage. They are easier. For example:
- You can run a large group with less volunteers
- Large group is mostly one way conversation— you are teaching, kids are listening and watching
- You have more control in a large group setting
- Most curriculums have a large group element
Just because it is easier doesn’t mean you should only run a large group setting in your kids ministry.
Like I said, there was a time in my past that I only had a rage group, for a variety of different reasons. Among the reasons:
- I didn’t have volunteers to help.
- There were not many kids to begin with
- I didn’t have small group lessons
Over the years I began to see that the large group was good, it served a purpose, but small groups serve a purpose too. They may be more difficult to run, and they are not without logistical challenges, but there are benefits of a small group.
- It is easier to build relationships between teacher and student in a small
- It is easier for kids to build peer relationships in a small group.
- It is easier to have discussions and participation in a small group.
For me, one of the key aspects of a small group are the relationships. It is so much easier to communicate and connect with a few people. The more people in the group, the harder that becomes, and there comes a point when you cannot build an effective relationship with everyone if there are too many people.
Jesus understood this, and he modeled this for us. He had his times that he taught to the masses– crowds of 5000. Talk about a large group setting! And he didn’t even have a microphone.
There was a time and a place for the large group, Jesus had a small group too– remember his twelve disciples? Those were the guys that he built a relationship with. He was able to teach and talk to them differently, because there were only twelve of them. The disciples were lucky to have that one on one time with Jesus that they would not have received if they were just in the large crowd.
You have kids that will benefit so much more by having one on one time with you, or another leader. The large group is great, and you need that time, but you also need a small group time.
If Jesus did it, so should we. Have the large group and the small group time. There are benefits to a large group, and there are benefits of a small group. You should not have to choose between the two, you can have both.
You can divide your time between large and small group. You can have large group on Sunday and small group on Wednesday. The important factor is having times for both large groups and small groups.
Don’t know where to start?
First of all, find a curriculum, or lessons, that you can use as a small group guide.
- 252 Basics has a free unit you can download– it has a great large group/small group format
- Messages from Monsters is my most popular series. It also has a large group/small group format
- Get a devotion book, and use each devotion as small group material.
Don’t have enough help?
You may think that because you teach alone, or only have one helper, that you cannot effictively run a small group time. I disagree. There are many different ways you can run a group time.
- adult leader in every group
- teen leaders in every group, and you can rotate between the groups
- upper elementary leaders in every group, and you can rotate between the groups
All of these work, and I know from experience. I have run my small groups each of the ways I listed. It can be as simple as having a fifth grader read a page, then read some questions about what was just read. Don’t over complicate it, it doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, once you get it going, it is pretty easy.