We all want to succeed in youth ministry. We want to see student’s lives changed. We want to see student’s become disciples of Jesus who disciple others. In order to ensure success, however, we need to focus on preparation. This is because success happens through preparation.

In Mark 9, Jesus’ disciples tried to help a boy who was possessed by an evil spirit. They were unable to help the boy, so the boy’s father turned to Jesus for help. Jesus healed the boy, and then had an interesting conversation with his disciples.

Mark 9:28-29 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” 29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”

Jesus’ disciples couldn’t cast out this demon. Why? They had not spent enough time in prayer. They hadn’t gone through the proper preparation to give them success in this moment. Other ancient manuscripts of this passage record Jesus’ words as, “This kind (of evil spirit) can be cast out only by prayer and fasting.” This clarifies Jesus’ words to his disciples. Certainly, the disciples weren’t supposed to stop and pray and fast in that moment when the father asked for help. You can’t fast in a moment.

Jesus is telling his disciples that they had avoided prayer and fasting. Therefore, when they faced a spiritual challenge, they didn’t have the resources to overcome it. The same principle is true for us. We must put in the work of preparation in order to see spiritual fruit in our small groups.

With that in mind, as a youth leader you can think about preparation in three ways:

Prepare for the conversation

Part of preparation means preparing for your conversation in your small group. At a minimum this means that you will watch the video and go over the discussion questions in advance of your meeting. Try and anticipate which questions will be helpful for your group, and which questions you might need to change or take out in order to create a better discussion. Feel free to add questions as necessary.

Also, if you are going through a series that is part of Sermonlink, then it’s helpful to review the adult lesson on that topic too. You may have further questions about material that your group is going to discuss. Check out related resources at pursueGOD.org or use the search tool to find your answers.

Prepare through prayer

This is the most important part of your preparation. Studies on small groups have shown that success in your small group is directly tied to the amount of prayer you put into your group. Praying for your small group is not optional. Build praying for your group into your schedule. Write down prayers requests for members of your group, and pray for them throughout the week.

Prepare by being on time

If you want a successful small group, then be on time for your group. Arrive early enough to make sure that your meeting space is set-up properly. Make sure that you have enough handouts if you are going to use them. Leave yourself time to get mentally and spiritually prepared before your group begins. There is nothing more frustrating for everyone than being late to your group and feeling rushed.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Why is it important for a small group leader to be prepared?
  4. What does good preparation communicate to the members of your group? What does bad preparation communicate to the members of your group?
  5. On a scale of 1 to 10, how equipped do you feel to use the resources at pursueGOD.org?
  6. How can you make prayer a priority as a youth leader?
  7. What does being late communicate to your small group?
  8. What does not showing up, or being inconsistent with attendance communicate to your small group and other youth leaders?
  9. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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