The “S” Word

I began my journey in Student Ministry at the young age of 18. I worked for Jacksonville Christian Academy, and also served as the school’s chaplain. Being the only male on staff in the Learning Center, I had the pleasure of escorting young boys to the restroom multiple times throughout the day.

There is nothing like little-boy restroom conversations. Comedy gold.

One day, though, I had a mild heart attack as a 7-year-old boy pointed to a 8-year-old boy and informed me, “He said the ‘S’ word!” Coming from a public school background, my immediate thought was, Dear Lord, they have potty mouths at this age?? All I could manage was a bewildered stare and “What?” The little boy rolled his eyes. “He said ‘STUPID.'” Certainly egregious in its own right, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a sense of relief!

Well, there is an ‘S’ word that some treat with the same measure of shock and disgust. Just like the little boy’s comment in the bathroom, though, it’s not as bad as we make it out to be. It’s a word I think we consider from the entirely wrong perspective.


“Small” seems to be a dirty word in church work. As a church planter, I’ve referred to our congregation several times as “small.” I’ve had other church planters and well-meaning saints correct me. “It’s not small; it’s growing! Small is a mentality!”

While I appreciate what they are trying to say, I disagree with them. “Small” is a stage. It’s a part of the process. Getting upset because someone calls my church “small” would be like getting upset because someone calls my 11-month-old son “small.” Of course he’s small; he’s an infant! If he was my size, we would have a problem!

So many people miss out on their children’s lives because they are always thinking down the road. They’re so concentrated on the next milestone that they miss enjoying the stage they are in. There are only so many years you get to cuddle, push them on the swing, take walks to the park, and play Legos on the living room floor; we better enjoy them while we can!

It’s great to have vision. Without a vision, the people perish. I’ve heard that if you want to grow, you have to lead your group as if it was twice the size that it is; I believe there is a lot of truth to that. It is ABSOLUTELY God’s will for every teenager in your city to be won to Him. We must be careful, though, not to get so focused on the youth group we WANT that we forget it begins with selling out to the youth group we HAVE.

If you’re a Youth Pastor of a small youth group, can I encourage you to enjoy this stage? It’s part of the process! If you’re doing the right things, there are only so many years where they will all fit in your living room, or in the same van. There are only so many years where you will personally be able to attend every baseball game, graduation, recital, or birthday party. There are only so many years where you will personally be able to mentor and connect on a deep level with every single one of them. Enjoy it while you can, because WHEN you grow, you will need your current “Small” group to help you reach your “Big” group.

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