Floyd Godfrey, PhD


The Hallmarks of an Effective Small Group Leader in Teen Ministry

By Floyd Godfrey

*To watch my presentation on this topic: YouTube.


In the heart of every vibrant youth ministry lies a network of small groups, each a microcosm of the larger community, dedicated to nurturing the faith and fellowship of our teens. If properly organized and facilitated, these groups can have a profound impact on our students, offering them a safe space for spiritual growth and personal discovery.

The scripture guides us in Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another," underscoring the significance of community and fellowship. It is within these small groups that our teens learn to navigate the complexities of their faith, guided by leaders who embody the love, wisdom, and strength of Christ.

Attributes of an Effective Small Group Leader

An effective small group leader in teen ministry is not just a facilitator but a mentor, a guide, and a confidant. Here are the key attributes that set apart truly impactful leaders:

  • Empathy and Understanding: Leaders must resonate with the unique challenges and pressures that teens face. This requires a deep sense of empathy and the ability to provide a listening ear, understanding, and guidance without judgment.
  • Boundaries and Maturity: While fostering a relaxed and open environment is crucial, leaders must also exhibit the maturity to maintain boundaries, ensuring the group remains a safe and respectful space for all members.
  • Spiritual Knowledge: An solid understanding of the Gospel and the ability to apply its teachings to everyday challenges is essential. Leaders should be prepared to share wisdom spontaneously, using the teachings of Christ to illuminate and guide discussions.
  • Communication Skills: Effective leaders must be adept at communicating not just with teens but with their parents, building bridges of trust and cooperation between the ministry and families.
  • Confidentiality: Trust is the foundation of any small group, and leaders must be unwavering in their commitment to confidentiality, ensuring that the group remains a haven where teens feel safe to share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Adaptability and Openness: The best leaders are those who can receive feedback and adapt their approach, recognizing that growth is a continuous journey. This openness fosters an environment where both leaders and teens can learn and evolve together.
  • Fostering Connection: Leaders should strive to understand and meet the connection needs of each member, recognizing the diversity in how teens express and experience their faith and relationships.

Our mission is to guide our teens towards a deeper understanding of their faith and to cultivate a community where they feel valued, understood, and connected. The role of a small group leader is pivotal in this journey, demanding not only a deep love for Christ and His teachings but also a genuine passion for nurturing the spiritual growth of young people.

Remember the words of Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity." May we be the friends and brothers to our teens, guiding them through times of adversity with wisdom, love, and the light of Christ.

In closing, I extend my encouragement to all our pastors and volunteers. Your commitment to serving as small group leaders is a testament to your faith and dedication to nurturing the next generation of believers. Together, let us embark on this journey with open hearts and minds, ready to shape a future where our teens are empowered to live out their faith with courage, compassion, and conviction.

Floyd Godfrey has led various teen groups within different churches and denominations over the past 30 years. He worked as a licensed counselor for 23 years and provided supervision and training for other counselors as they learned to develop adolescent intervention and programming. You can read more about Floyd Godfrey at www.FloydGodfrey.com.

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