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Inviting youth to participate in small group ministry is a good fit for several reasons:
Throughout the course of their faith development and in their youth groups, Unitarian Universalist youth build strong communities. They recognize that members of a community are responsible for each other. In youth worship, at conferences, in the hallways of the congregation, and through electronic social networks, Unitarian Universalist youth nurture and support each other, rejoice and mourn together, and share their lives and inner thoughts naturally. Some youth will have a prior frame of reference from their experiences with "touch groups," used at youth conferences to develop leadership. Facilitated by youth themselves, small touch groups help youth make friends out of strangers and increase a feeling of belonging.
Small group ministry provides an excellent framework for leadership development. Most youth want a greater say in what is included in their programs. The small group ministry model allows youth to take an active role in both planning and implementing sessions. Because the learning comes as much from their relationships and interactions as from the session content, they way youth are included becomes increasingly important. As a small ministry group goes forward, the youth can take on more of the responsibility for making their time together meaningful for the participants.
Small group ministry models shared leadership. Whether the youth facilitate sessions in part or wholly, they work together with their adult advisors to create a program for everyone. Youth facilitators who meet with adult small group ministry facilitators will make connections to adult leaders in the congregation. The opportunities to interact with a wide range of congregants will increase youth's sense of belonging to a faith home that truly treasures them as individuals and appreciates the gifts they have to share.
If you are considering using small group ministry with youth, be clear about your goals. Some goals might include:
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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.
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