I am working with a youth and young adults group that has a big age difference, should I split up the group?

charlesjoseph
small-groups
age

(RZIM Connect Member) #1

Hi
I’m handling a youth and young adults group on weekend in my church. We have a fellowship every 2 weeks on Saturday. And on the other weekend, we went to their house for a visit, to visit them or visit sick family members.
Their age is quite vary from 16 until 40 (because there are some unmarried young adults also). I myself is 39.
sometimes around 15 people came to our fellowship group.
I notice the age difference is quite big so sometimes i tried to make variations in the fellowship. Such as making group games, ask them to share about the Word of God or about their personal experience in walking with God. I also ask them to read the bible on a daily basis, and to share daily about what they got from the bible that can give encouragement to other members.
My questions is is it ok to keep up this group although there is a big gap of age difference? Or should it be better to split up the group? If so what is the age limitations?
Thank you, Jesus bless.


(RZIM Connect Member) #2

Hi,

I’m certainly not Charles Joseph, but I may have something useful to offer you when it comes to small groups.

In my few years’ experience in participating in these, large age gaps have never been an issue. We usually start group meetings with a “check-in”. Basically, each person (if they want to) has a short time to introduce themselves and share about what’s been going on in their lives this week. Usually, the groups I’ve held have operated with an understanding of confidentiality, such that if someone wants to share something private or sensitive, they are free to, understanding that it will not be shared outside of the group. These opportunities to “check-in” have been invaluable in building relationships, helping people get more comfortable with speaking openly and for conversational material as the group meeting carries on. We try to hold off on going on conversational tangents until everyone has had the chance to say their piece, but I’d encourage you to test it out and see what works.

May God bless you and your group.


(Charles Joseph) #3

Hi:

Thrilled to learn of your investment in the lives of the young in Jakarta.
Eternity will reveal the huge significance of your labor of love. Keep up the good work dear sister!

Your question is a very practical one that strikes a chord with me. My wife and I have been involved with youth groups for some time now and still continue to be - though we’ve crossed the retirement age a few times over :wink:

When we moved into Mumbai (western India), 7 years ago, we took up a similar group to the one that you’ve described (in age and size) and have been working with them since. At times, after our weekly meetings and study of the Word, I would walk away feeling rather upset with myself, that I’d pitched it too high for the teens and wondered if all that I shared that evening, bounced over their heads. At other times, I kept it basic with the younger ones in mind and the older ones would look out of the window! The right balance was never easy and seemed quite elusive. My wife and I would talk about it at home and it did bother us for a season.

If you are asking this question, I’m assuming that there are some feelers that make you wonder, what is the most efficient combination. Sometimes, it could just be your perception that all are not benefiting. And the concern that you may not come across as relevant across the entire group etc. It might not be a bad idea to listen in to some of these concerns that you may have, by informally asking certain perceptive members across (different ages) the group, to get a real idea of how beneficial these sessions are and how the’d like them to be.

In our own context, we did this and it was very insightful. We then split the groups into two, where my wife handled the younger ones, whose needs were basic and foundational requiring a lot of focus on life application, encouragement, motivation and challenge. The older group needed a lot of answers to questions they were being asked in their spheres of influence as they were attempting to witness. So, their need was a bit more deeper - theology, apologetics, cultural etc.

We would have them together for worship and games and then split them up when it came to teaching or study based on their preference. Interestingly, there were some younger ones, who wanted deep stuff and chose to be a part of the ‘advanced’ group (though we refrained from using that word!). It could create unhealthy feelings of ‘greater’ and ‘lesser’. We need to be very careful here and it calls for a lot of wisdom from above, if you intend to go this route.

Another thing that we’ve tried is to give little tasks and responsibilities to the older ones, and requiring them to assist us and fill in for us in some ways. This helps the older ones who feel out of place, involved and they become contributors and not just passive recipients. That way we are also preparing second line leaders and they realize their relevance.

Interestingly, sometimes if its just one large group and the senior ones have been discipled to have the the heart of coming alongside the leader and speaking into the lives of the younger ones, the whole dynamics of having one large group gets really beautiful too. And as the seniors invest in the younger ones, they are inspired to a higher level of walking with the Lord, and benefit much. The Spirit of God can take the same message and use it in myriad ways to minister to different individuals with varied needs, as only he can.

Finally, prepare with prayer, seek the guidance and counsel of the Holy Spirit to lead this group, take informal feedback/suggestions from the group, try different formats and see what helps, have guest speakers come-in once in a while and take their inputs too.

Didn’t intend for this reply to be so long! Apologies!!

May be, I was too enthusiastic about my first question :wink:

God bless!


(Kay Kalra) #4