This past weekend, at our middle school winter camp, I was able to witness something that I have long believed in but don’t write about much.
A few years ago, I began exploring the idea of having our older high school students co-lead middle school small groups. This was definitely not an original idea, and I don’t want to claim it as such. Nonetheless, it was the first time I had made a conscious effort to implement it within my ministry. Of course, it brings its own challenges, but it also brings some great things that can only happen when a high schooler plays a strong role in a middle schooler’s life.
I have this group of boys that I have always led at camp. Their regular small group leaders have not been able to take the time off from work to attend, which means the leading responsibilities fall to me. Because of this, I have a growing relationship with these boys. In fact, I’m the closest to them largely because of camp; however, I have always struggled to have more than a five-minute serious talk with them during small group discussion. They get distracted so easily.
This school year, though, they have one of our seniors as their co-leader, and he was able to attend camp. While it was tough for me at times to cut ties, I made sure that I did not get in the way of his leading. And what I witnessed from afar was incredible. They actually sat there the whole time and had some great conversations. Yes, they still went off-topic, because they are middle school boys, but they were more focused than they ever were with me.
Later on Saturday, I asked our high schooler how his group was going. He expressed something like, “It’s going pretty good, but after about 15 or 20 minutes, they get really distracted and it’s sometimes hard to bring them back.” While he was a little bummed at that, I had to immediately stop him and praise him for actually getting 15-20 minutes out of them. That was huge!! He actually had a descent conversation about God and life with them that lasted more than the five minutes that I had gotten.
Not only that, but his experience with these boys has partially pushed him to go to a nearby college this fall in order to stay connected and keep serving with the students.
Do not underestimate the power of having students lead other students! Yes, it will add more challenges to your ministry. You will have to equip them more than many of your adults. You will will need to come alongside them more often. You need to pair them up with another solid adult leader. All of those things are so worth it, though, as you begin to see glimpses of awesomeness like I did this past weekend.
FEEDBACK: Where do your students serve within your ministry? And what are some of your success stories? I’d love to hear them in the comments!