i am a small group leader at the local sr high youth group, but tonight i gave a talk to both the junior and senior high about dating and flirtation. i love youth ministry, i love leading small groups, and i especially love researching and writing cirriculum, but speaking in public is terrifying! it went ok, and even better than ok the second time around. we are spending a whole month talking about sex and dating, so at least i didn't feel like i had to lay out all the answers in one talk (as if that were even possible!)
i tried to frame my talk in the context of Jesus saying we need to love God and love people. basically, the question is not whether dating and flirting are ok or not, but what are my intentions and motivations as i relate to someone else--am i serving them and reflecting Christ's love, or am i serving myself and treating that person as an object or accessory to my pleasure or popularity? we were able to have some decent large group discussion, (even with middle school!), and i think small groups afterward went pretty well. if even one kid left thinking about what it means to honor Christ in the context of their relationships, then it was succesful.
turnout among senior high girls has dwindled away to only two or three girls a week (which is also as many leaders as we have.) it's frustrating. there is larger christian youth organization that meets weekly, and i think a lot of the girls who used to come go there instead. the kids are busy with school and sports, and i understand not having time to devote more than one evening a week, but i wish they wouldn't give up being in a small group bible study. the accountability, community, and growth that are fostered in that context just can't be replicated in a large group setting.