Any time youth workers get together one question emerges: “So, how many you running these days?”  As a species, youth workers are infatuated with numbers.  We talk about how many students went to camp, how many first-time visitors we’ve had, how many percentage points our average attendance increased. We compare our percentage points to other people’s percentage points and our sense of competency is directly effected by the results of said comparisons. It’s sad, really.  Our “big” thinking actually shows our collective smallness.

So today, I want to celebrate the small.  Today, I want to remind you of the power of little. I want to help you recognize that thinking small can make a big difference.


Small groups are a BIG deal! I know they aren’t as sexy as the large group gathering, especially if your large group gathering involves moving lights and a fog machine.  I realize that most of your senior pastors or elders rarely ask for a status report on your small groups.  But big things happen in small groups. Adults build relationships with students. Prayers are shared. Accountability is formed. Friendships are strengthened. Lives are changed.

Small Thinking Challenge:  How can you continue to emphasize the importance of small groups in your ministry?  What changes might you need to make in how they are structured in order to make them more meaningful?


In our ministry, we do a really good job of celebrating the BIG spiritual steps teenagers take; baptism, salvation, and going on a mission trip are all examples of things that tend to capture our attention and get our applause.  But youth ministry is full of students taking steps that, while they may seem little to us, are really important in the life of the teenagers taking them. The teenager who says she has decided to get out of an unhealthy relationship. The student who has committed to pray for his unsaved friend. The junior higher who sticks around after youth group to help pick up trash.

Small Thinking Challenge:  How can your ministry proactively celebrate the small steps teenagers take every single week?


Our ministry constantly reminds our volunteers that any conversation can be good conversation! Far too many youth workers put themselves under enormous pressure to make sure every conversation turns spiritual, to never miss an opportunity to help a teenager take the next step or turn a spiritual corner.  But small conversations matter, too! Conversations that don’t have an agenda attached to them show teenagers you actually like them and don’t see them as a project of some sort.  Greet students by name. Follow up on prayer requests.  Catch them in the act of doing something good and quickly point it out.

Small Thinking Challenge:  Set a goal: How many “small conversations” can you have next week at youth group?

I hope your youth group experiences incredible growth this year! I hope the next time somebody asks you how many you’re running you can give them a BIG number.

And while it grows, I hope your youth ministry also gets very, very small.

-Kurt Johnston