This is such a great question— one I hear it all the time, and one I get very excited about it! The answer is a resounding, “YES!” I’ve seen it done with my own two eyes, and it was beautiful!
You may be a bit hesitant, thinking that this sounds great, but can only be done in an ideal world… the good news is that it actually can be a reality for your youth group. Just teach the students to employ the Person of Peace strategy. It’s as easy as that!
I’m kidding— “easy” would be an ideal world situation… but using the person of peace strategy is the way to go. If this is the first time you’ve heard about the Person of Peace strategy, learn more about it here.
…but if you’re still tracking with me…
Here are six pointers to help you move towards students huddling students:
1) The students who start huddling, must first be huddled.
They should probably either be discipled by the youth pastor themselves, or by other adult leaders (who have also been discipled). This is key, and the most important ingredient for success! We don’t want to create havoc and heartbreak by sending out students who are ill- equipped as leaders! Once you (or the student’s huddle leader) feel that the student can lead their own huddle, encourage them to start looking for their people of peace: to ask the Lord to help them intentionally identify who already likes hanging out with them, who doesn’t mind serving them, and who responds well to their challenge. Remind them that It probably won’t be their peer friends (their peers actually might take offense at the offer) and to not be afraid to think outside the box! The Lord may even put a name in their head that they never would have thought of!
2) Don’t surprise them.
At the very beginning, warn all the students whom you invite into your own huddle that the expectation is for them to lead their own huddle one day— and hopefully soon! Encourage them and empower them by telling them that you see great leadership qualities already displayed in them, you will show them how to lead their own huddle, they are never alone, and that you believe in them!
3) Be patient!
It will likely take longer than you originally anticipated. Don’t forget to meet your challenge with equal invitation, grace, and encouragement! No matter how much of a leader the student is, they are still young— and that’s ok!
4) Not all of the students in your huddle will be ready at the same time.
Just as people grow at different rates physically, people grow spiritually (and in competency levels) at different rates as well. Just because one student seems to be ready to start their own huddle, doesn’t mean the rest will be ready. Take it on a case-by-case basis.
￼5) Remind them that they aren’t you, and that’s great!
Once the student(s) have reached the point where you feel they are equipped to lead and you have broached the conversation of the student starting their very own huddle, the most common response I have encountered from students is fear. They will be afraid that they won’t always know what to say, and will claim that they will not be able to lead it like you. Remind them of the original vision, and validate their fears. Encourage them that the Holy Spirit will guide them, and that it’s always ok to say, “I’m not sure, let me get back to you,” and then they can come running to you to ask for help! Lastly, let them know that it’s actually a good thing that their huddle won’t look like yours: it will look like theirs! Give them freedom to be themselves, and lead how they would lead if Jesus were them— they have permission to be creative!
6) Keep huddling them!
You may have taught them all of the Lifeshapes, and they may all be leading their own huddles, but your student leaders will continue to need you! Keep huddling them. Have kairos-based huddles, and help coach them along the way! Check in with them after their first several huddles to see how it went, and keep the conversation open!! If you’re not quite sure where to even begin, a great first step towards students huddling other students is to encourage your high school student leaders to begin attending (and helping out with) the junior high ministry at your church in order to form relationships; while keeping an eye out for their people of peace. This is also a very natural segway into beginning to form student- led missional communities, as their own group of friends and followers begins to accumulate!!
Happy huddling, and may the odds be ever in your favor!
This post was written by Becky Rabb, a member of 3DM’s central team and leader in the local student ministry.