Review: Help! I’m A Small Group Leader Training Video

January 11th, 2010

By Rebecca Hyatt Guzman  Have you ever been completely bored by a training session…while leading it?  Ever racked your brain about how to help a small group leader who needed a little direction without sounding preachy? If you identify with either of those situations, the Help! I’m a Small Group Leader Training Video (DVD) might be just what you need.  Brought to you by Laurie Polich, and based on her book Help! I’m a Small Group Leader,  along with the Skit Guys, Tommy Woodard and Eddie James, a duo with 15 years of experience in drama, comedy, and teaching, this DVD is designed to train small group leaders on “what to do, by observing what not to do.”

In the videos, we meet a number of characters who illustrate common small group leader pitfalls.  The sessions introduce Easy, who arrives late to the group while talking on his mobile phone and clearly hasn’t prepared anything; Rod, who is so insistent on sticking to the schedule that he points out, “Erica can meet Jesus Saturday night” rather than during small group time; Mr. Jabber, who answers every question himself because they are “rhetorical”; Bob, who is so busy trying to be best friends with his group that he offers, “we could come over to my apartment and we could drink”; and Mat, who lets his group walk all over him.

In addition to these clips, the DVD contains six portrayals of students, as well as a helpful summation of the “leadership principles.” The principles are:

  • “Take time to plan, prepare, and pray for your group.”
  • “Have a plan, but be flexible to the group’s needs.”
  • “Let students discover the answers for themselves.”
  • “Don’t bring your unmet needs into your group.”
  • “Don’t forget you’re the leader.”

When I used it in a training session, I found that the training’s main strength is that the humorous portrayals of the leaders open up conversation without pointing fingers, and while the portrayals are very funny, they also insightfully target common problems. The length of the clips, about 4 minutes each, lends them to use in a variety of settings. If you decided to read the book Help! I'm a Small Group Leader with your group leaders it might make the DVD sessions even more helpful, but the video training stands on its own quite well.

When watching the additional clips portraying the types of student behaviors, I was a little disappointed. While the portrayals themselves are great, and the assessment of the students seems on target, the DVD lacks any real advice on how to deal with them in small group. These could still easily be used as conversation starters, however, and are obviously not intended to be the focus of the DVD. 

Although small group leaders are the target audience, the Help! I’m a Small Group Leader Training Video could be used for anyone in a leadership position with youth, particularly those geared towards discipleship or teaching. This resource is extremely easy to use, and even comes with suggested discussion questions for each section. Your leaders will laugh, but they will also learn the “leadership principles” in a creative way as they recognize themselves in Easy, Rod, Mr. Jabber, Bob, and Mat.

This is an independent youth worker's review of Help! I'm a Small Group Leader Training Video (DVD), published by Youth Specialties, which is the parent company of Youth Ministry Exchange. 


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