How does the size of a gathering affect the way the Kingdom of God breaks in? If you are leading a small group of young people, or maybe just beginning in your journey as a youth leader, I want to speak into your spirit about the value of each and every teen that crosses your path!
I will never forget the youth gathering when only two teens showed up. My husband and I had been serving the youth group at the Vineyard church in Framingham, Massachusetts for about six months at the time. We were pretty stoked as we’d just gone from meeting with the students on Sunday morning during the church service, to having our own “youth night.” We had a room designated for the teens which we painted and let them spray-paint their favorite quotes and verses on it; we had given our group the name “Plunge”, which we thought was cool. We felt like we were building momentum and had gone from gathering 12 to 15 students on a Sunday morning to 25 to 30 on a Sunday night. We were praying together, students were praying for each other, we were teaching and stepping out in prophetic ministry and had some sweet moments in worship (which at the time was a guitar and occasional djembe to set the vibe). All and all, we felt like things were moving forward.
Then one Sunday night we came in with a sense of expectancy. You can imagine our surprise…frustration, confusion…uh, maybe annoyance, when only two teens came that night. We tried to wrack our brains to figure out if we’d missed something, was there some other major event going on? Had someone announced youth group had been canceled? Was the message from last week really that bad? But we said none of this out loud to the teens, instead we prayed (mostly to ourselves), and we engaged with the two teens that were there.
Two hours later, we were blown away at God’s faithfulness and the way the Kingdom of God had shown up! One of the teens that came that night was at a crossroad in her faith. She was processing the pain, confusion and doubts that stemmed from some of the brokenness her family was experiencing at the time. Because it was just her, one other teen and us, she was able to process openly. It was as if all of heaven paused and wanted her to feel God’s love and capacity to handle her life. This young lady is one of the most compassionate individuals I’ve ever met, and knowing her, if anyone else had been at youth group that night, she would have been reaching out to them and trying to help them. Had God not allowed her to be the center of our attention, I wonder if her questions would have been processed?
The Scripture tells us in Matthew 18:20 that “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (NKJV) That means that during every ice cream cone, every small group, every gathering of one or more teens that you invite Jesus into, He shows up! When you are gathering with a smaller crew of teens, you have a HUGE opportunity in front of you! You are able to take the time to personally minister to them and to proactively train them to follow what the Father is doing.
If you have dreams of gathering more teens than are currently in your group, sow the seeds in the small group that you hope to have in a larger gathering. Are you inviting the Kingdom of God to break in even when it’s just the two of you over coffee? Are you giving the smaller group opportunities for real ministry? Are you coaching them in that? If so, it is likely that when you are leading double the amount of teens it will be part of your DNA as you grow!
Shawn and I have since lead groups of 30, 50 and even 100. Regardless of the size of the group, we, as leaders are always strategizing ways to break large groups down to small groups so that we can minister to one another and invite the Kingdom of God in a personal way. Revival and lasting change in the human heart are built one God story at a time. So while the size of a gathering may change some of the dynamics and logistics of how the Kingdom of God breaks in; when we pray “let Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”, we can expect Him to move both in and through each individual!
- HLI Moment: Discipleship For The Long Haul - May 10, 2017
- Lighting the Paths of Young People: HLI’s Commitment to Kingdom Theology - January 13, 2017
- “It’s amazing what can happen if no one cares who gets the credit” - April 18, 2013