Balcomb, Single Digit Youth Groups

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Marcey Balcomb, Single Digit Youth Groups: Working With Fewer Than 10 Teens. Abingdon Press, 2004.

Sequel: Balcomb, Single Digit Youth Groups 2

Referenced in: Small Church Leadership Summary

Youth workers in small churches need encouragement and guidance on how to value and work with what they have, rather than operate from the assumption that their group must be larger to be legitimate. Balcomb understands this, and provides a hopeful guide to building a vibrant youth ministry with as little as a handful of various-aged teens.

She demonstrates how, on both biblical and practical grounds, small groups may actually better serve the interests of ministry. On a biblical level, the biblical principles of community are more within reach as smaller groups share and trust each other on a deeper level. Practically, it is easier to arrange activities such as retreats and social events (e.g. going to the movies) when fewer people are involved.

On the other hand, she addresses frustrating aspects of small youth groups, not the least of which is scant resources, as most materials for youth ministry assume larger groups, and it is sometimes hard to scale them down. She addresses this by describing 42 workable activities (with reproducible forms) for small youth groups. A helpful companion volume, Single Digit Youth Groups 2 (2006) expands on this.

Balcomb also discusses other issues pertinent to working with small groups of teens. These includes how to start a group from scratch with a handful of teens and how to help them invite others to their activities, planning when and where to meet, insuring safety, and cooperating with other youth groups in the area.

From the Publisher

Marcey Balcomb discusses the value and strengths of a youth group that has fewer than 10 teens. The benefits and struggles of small youth groups are examined, along with the qualities of an outstanding youth leader.

This book includes benefits, strategies, and practical helps in beginning or strengthening signal-digit youth groups, as well as Scripture-based activities and short stories. A variety of reproducible forms are also provided for use or adaption. Each and every youth needs and deserves support and encouragement. This book offers some ways to be there for them on that journey, regardless of the size of the group.

About the Author

Marcey Balcomb is a 30 year veteran in youth ministry, currently serving as Director of Common Cup Youth Ministry in Portland, OR. Marcey is co-author of Twists of Faith: Ministry with Youth at the Turning Points of their Lives (1999). She has also written for Faith in Motion, YouthNet, LinC, Connect, Devo’Zine, WITH Devotional, and various other magazines.

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