"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Youth Ministry Topics Small Groups

Leading a Successful Talk Back Group

Steve Miller

Leading a Successful Talk-Back Group
(Outline of Training Meeting Talk)

I. Shepherding: Each youth feels: "They care for me."

Introduction to Shepherding

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11) 

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me." (John 10:14) 

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)  

Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; (I Peter 5:2)  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (I Peter 5:4)  

ILLUSTRATION: A fellow named Walt volunteered to teach a Sunday School class, but the church offered him none. Now Walt had never made it past the 6th grade, and they were probably apprehensive at trusting him with a class. But they told him that if he could recruit a class, he could teach it. So Walt took on the challenge, and went down the road inviting kids to Sunday School. Along the way, he found a nine-year-old from a broken home named Howie. When invited to Sunday School, Howie reasoned that anything to do with school, he didn't want. So Walt took another tactic. ''Let's play marbles,'' he suggested. Walt played marbles, and Howie came to his class. Now this man was more than a teacher. He was an equipper. Eleven of the 14 kids in his class went into vocational Christian work. Nine were from broken homes. Howie became one of the foremost Christian educators of our generation, Howard Hendricks. (From Reach Out Illustration Database at www.reach-out.org)

Shepherding Ideas That Work

Your Ideas:

My Ideas:

  • Fill out a sheet on each student.
  • Pray for each student regularly.
  • Contact students regularly: e-mail, phone, personal visits, letters. (Patty with note in purse, Gordon McDonald with notes)
  • See them at activities.
  • Get students shepherding students.
  • Hire a college student or sharp senior.
  • Arrive early and stay late.
  • Keep a shepherding notebook. (Illustration: Surely not THAT teacher!)
  • Serve them practically.
  • The candy factor. (An act of kindness.)

Point Person (Adult and Student):

II. Assimilation: Each youth feels: "I fit in here."

Introduction: The Importance

A group of 10,000 students were asked, "If you were choosing a church, how important would the following things be?" Guess which items were the most important to them. (Percentage report was of the percentage of kids who rated each of these items as "very important.")

# ___ - A welcoming atmosphere where you can be yourself

# ___ - Quality relationships with teenagers

# ___ - A senior pastor who understands and loves teenagers

# ___ - Interesting preaching that tackles key questions

# ___ - Spiritual growth experiences that actively involve you

# ___ - Fun activities

# ___ - Engaging music and worship

# ___ - Quality relationships with adults

# ___ - Multiple opportunities to lead, teach, and serve

# ___ - A fast-paced, high-tech, entertaining ministry approach

(Answers are found at the end of the article.)

How many of you, as a youth, can remember going into a group where you either didn’t know anyone or weren’t accepted? How did you feel? Would you come back, even if the program was great?

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7) 

"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (JOHN 17:23)

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:42) 

Pastor Steve Sjogren: Go for the people nobody wants and God will bring you the ones that everybody wants.

Pastor Ike Reighard: If we do nothing else right as a church, we’ve got to be compassion focused.

What works to foster friendliness and community?

Your ideas:

My ideas:

  • Build memories outside of the church (Acts of kindness and just plain fun.)
  • Use crowdbreakers (Ask other leaders and look that this web page: http://www.gocampus.org/alliance/acquire/acquire1-9.htm) Examples: 1) One good thing and one bad from the past week. 2) The "Sign My Sheet" race.
  • Allow priority time each week for sharing and prayer requests.
  • Get them involved in the ministry. (Students stay because feel needed. They helped me with book, etc.)
  • Push events of the entire youth group. Volunteer for them.
  • Your role is a useful tool. Appoint a keeper and use it!
  • Train your sharp students in friendliness skills. (The most important time for a newcomer may be the walk from the car to the auditorium, from the auditorium to the class, and after the dismissal of the class.)

Point Person: (Adult and Student)

III. Application: Each youth can say, "You make Christianity livable."

Importance of Application

"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." (JAMES 1:22)

Discussion Ideas That Work

Your Ideas:

My Ideas:

  • Resist the urge to preach! Remember it’s TALK BACK group.
  • Use open-ended questions (can’t be answered by a simple "Yes" or "No").
  • Resist calling on individuals to read or answer.
  • Don’t drag it out. Leave them wanting more.
  • Don’t be enslaved to the questions.
  • Share briefly some illustration from your own life. (Helps them see it works and they get to know you.)

Point Person: (Adult + Students to take various weeks)

Other Hints For Leadership

  • Learn, learn, learn (First source: other leaders. Write down names, numbers and e-mail of other leaders. Other sources: key students, getting input from other leaders (get their names, numbers, e-mail addresses), sitting in on another group, Erin North (over life groups), Russ Butcher (over youth group) Steve Miller (leadership development).
  • Don’t get discouraged. Some groups are tough.
  • Don’t be picky about age divisions. For students RELATIONSHIPS RULE!
  • BE FLEXIBLE. Often your plans won’t work. Sometimes groups won’t meet. Maybe you’ll have 10 minutes.

Self-Evaluation Check List

Rate your group periodically on a scale of 1 (we stink) to 10 (we rule!).

___ Our students know that we love them.

___ Our students know each other and enjoy being together.

___ Our key students are great at drawing in those who don’t seem to fit.

___ Our key students are great at welcoming new students.

___ We contact our students regularly during the week.

___ Our students talk more than the leaders in class.

___ We come to each session fully prepared.

___ We pray for all of my students regularly.

___ Our students know how to apply the messages from City Church.

___ Our students are getting involved in Life Groups and other youth group activities.

___ We schedule outside activities for our group.

Answers to Survey

A group of 10,000 students, ages 12 to 19, were recently asked to rate the importance of 10 factors that influence their commitment to church. They were asked, "If you were choosing a church, how important would the following things be?" Following is the percentage of kids who rated each of these items as "very important"

#1 - A welcoming atmosphere where you can be yourself - 73%

#2 - Quality relationships with teenagers - 70%

#3 - A senior pastor who understands and loves teenagers - 59%

#4 - Interesting preaching that tackles key questions - 53%

#5 - Spiritual growth experiences that actively involve you - 51%

#6 - Fun activities - 51%

#7 - Engaging music and worship - 50%

#8 - Quality relationships with adults - 36%

#9 - Multiple opportunities to lead, teach, and serve - 35%

#10 - A fast-paced, high-tech, entertaining ministry approach - 21%