I started leading middle school youth group the year I graduated from high school. I started with a fabulous group of 6th grade girls. Each year, I moved up with them as they grew older. And each year, our small group has gotten smaller.
This year, I made the decision to move up to high school with my girls. I was disappointed to find out only 2 of my girls would be attending this year. From what I hear, our youth group "wasn't cool" enough for the other girls, and we "had too many rules". I'm sorry, but if learning about Jesus isn't cool enough for you, you're tough out of luck. And if your leader (me) requires that you not text on your cell phone during discussions, I guess my group just wasn't for you. (Please note, the last 2 statements were meant to be sarcastic!)
So here I am with a very small small group. And to top it off, one of my girls is going through a tough time right now and hasn't attended but 2 meetings all year. So it's just me and one other girl. We do the Bible studies our youth pastor prepares for us, but 1 person doesn't lead to much conversation and we usually finish in about 15 minutes.
You can imagine that I am frustrated with the dwindling interest in our youth group. Now, I did have an opportunity to combine small groups with the other group of freshman girls, but they meet on Sunday nights and that often doesn't work for me. We came to the conclusion that one of their two leaders would step down from the large group meetings, so our groups would combine for those, but she would continue to co-lead the small group since I was unable to.
So this morning, I approached the one girl in my small group. I had full intentions of telling her that we just weren't going to meet for small group anymore and I would just come for the large group nights. She attends the other small group's meetings on Sunday nights so I knew she wouldn't be missing out on the Bible studies. I wasn't ready to quit being a youth leader, I was just feeling like the small group times weren't worth our time anymore.
As soon as I mentioned it to my girl, I knew it wasn't going to go over well. We have a very close relationship (we've been together since she was in 6th grade), and she told me she still wanted me to come on the small group nights. One of her friends was standing there and jumped into the conversation, "the rest of us girls all just hang out on Wednesday nights, so why don't you lead another Bible study with us?" Out of the mouths of babes!!! (Well, if you consider 15 years old a babe still!!!) Now why couldn't I think of something like that? Here I am ready to throw in the towel and these girls are just aching for someone to talk to and spend time with. We came to the conclusion that they would talk with their friends and let them know of the plans, and I would find some good books for us to consider going through.
I'm so excited about this new opportunity and I just can't wait to see what God has in store for this incredible group of girls!