One might imagine that a smaller youth group would not suffer some of the same headaches that a larger youth group has. To a certain degree, it's true.
I don't have to worry about the sound system working so every teen can hear me from the stage. I don't have, or need, a sound system.
I don't concern myself with where all the driving teens will park. We have a parking lot large enough for us and for the adult evening service that runs at the same time.
I never think about budgeting enough for a speaker or band. The most I do would involve joining with another youth group, probably the larger group that is going to do so with or without my help.
But there is a problem for large and small groups alike. Cliques.
Honestly, I didn't give it much thought because I barely have enough teens to form a clique, much less several. But it crept in uninvited and made itself at home. Apparently cliques from outside of youth group feel free to come on in and join the fun. And fun is the last thing it actually provides. In fact, fun is something no one has while dealing with a clique.
So, what to do?
Deal with it.
Cliques, like any sin, love to live in the dark. If not addressed, the problems can fester and grow and become more than just cliques. So I addressed it. From the stage. I reminded our group of our purpose and our identity. There's no room for cliques in either.
Play against it.
I mentioned this idea a couple of weeks ago, but getting the group to feel stupid together puts everyone on a level playing field. If everyone feels dumb together and laughs together, the divisions become blurry. Enough blurriness can lead teens to realize where the real lines are drawn.
As much as I'd like to be a typical 3-point pastor, that's what I got this morning. If you've got other ideas, I would love to hear them, because this is not a new problem, nor is it one that will go away forever. I'm sure the cliquing noise will be back.