We’re gearing up for our fall launch of small groups and the leaders and I are all getting excited! Starting September 8th, we’ll have about a dozen groups of students meeting weekly for fellowship, Bible study and prayer. Last year we tried out the senior high Live small group curriculum with the 9th-12th grade students as kind of an experiment to see if the leaders and students liked it. It was very much a hit – the leaders loved the ease of the curriculum, loved having a year’s worth of resources at the fingertips (and downloadable), and the students really connected with it as well. I loved over hearing conversations about the small group lessons outside of small groups! I honestly can’t recommend this curriculum enough!
This year they came out with a middle school version as well, which I’m super excited about. Partially because it makes my life easier – as you can see from the diagram above, our small group curriculum is set now for the whole time students are in our program. It’s nice because it gives it a balance over the years, and I like it because it’s really, really well done. On top of that, it’s totally reproducible, so we can make as many copies as we need for as many years down the road that we want to use it. It also has online support, leaders can download resources, calendar online, mass text students and more.
One catch for us is that our middle school program is three years long while the study is set up for two. I solved it in that we have 30-32 weeks that our students actually meet as opposed to the 36 weeks worth of lessons in the curriculum. We’ll be using a couple of the small group DVD resources from Simply Youth Ministry and the Skit Guys You Teach dvds throughout the year, partially to make it easier for leaders some of the weeks, but also to change it up with the kids. What this means is that the 72 weeks worth of lessons in the curriculum will be split up over the three years with our middle school kids. I actually schedule out what the middle school groups are doing week to week; I like this because I can communicate it to parents, the kids are all on the same page, and it’s easier for our leaders to plan and know what to do.
On the flip side, we’re doing it a little different for the high school kids. The leaders are receiving all of this years’ studies, as well as the Crazy Love small group dvd study from Francis Chan. They’ll then talk to their groups and see what their groups need/want and go from there. The expectation is that they’ll keep me informed on what studies their doing. We’re all excited about this since it recognizes the high school age students’ need to be heard and not just given what everyone is given – each group will have a different year, they’ll do the studies in different orders, etc. I like it because I have a lot of confidence in this curriculum and whatever they land on, I know they’re being spiritually fed.