“No kid goes unnoticed”
When Lexi Moles, Ciudad Nueva’s Middle School Program Coordinator, received a complaint from a parent that their child wasn’t hearing about Jesus often enough during the middle school program, she could have dismissed it as inaccurate or unhelpful. Instead, Lexi chose to allow the parent’s complaint to serve as a catalyst for reevaluating the entire program.
“We are a Christian- and faith-based nonprofit, so I thought the parent had a valid point,” Lexi says. “I guess the program had stayed stagnant for awhile.”
Lexi responded by weaving small groups into the fabric of the Kids Create middle school program. Small groups are a vital part of many congregations, youth groups, and other ministries. Groups of about a dozen people meet regularly to study, reflect, and pray together. In the process, they get to know one another better — and they get to know themselves. Small group participants also have the opportunity to delve deeply into a particular area of study, often in ways that are hard to do in larger groups.
Lexi has found that the unique benefits of small group ministry align well with her goals for the program. “One of my goals for the middle school program is for the kids to have a foundation of Biblical knowledge and to know who Jesus is,” Lexi says. “I feel that small groups provide a space for the kids to ask questions that they may not want to ask in a bigger group setting. My other goal is for every kid to be seen and feel heard when they walk through the doors,” she says. “Small groups provide an environment where this can happen, and no kid goes unnoticed.”
How the Kids Create small groups work
The small groups met three times a week during the 2018-2019 program year. On Tuesdays, small groups were introduced to the topic that the guest speaker would be discussing during the Wednesday program, such as mass incarceration in the United States, bullying, breaking mental health stigmas, human trafficking, or relationships. Groups would meet right after the guest speaker on Wednesdays so they could process together what had just been taught. And groups would meet once again on Thursdays for a final follow-up on the week’s topic.
During the current program year, small groups meet once a week on Wednesdays. The Tuesday program looks entirely different than it has in the past. While Tuesdays used to be dedicated to creative art classes, they are now focused on Bible study and life skills classes. Kids do meet in separate groups on Tuesdays, with boys in one group and girls in another, so that time is similar to small groups in some ways.
While the frequency of small groups has changed, the overall purpose and structure have not. Each small group has time dedicated for exploring the week’s topic and tying it back to the Bible, as well as for sharing prayer requests and praises and praying for one another.
The adult staff and volunteers who lead the small groups are given a lot of creative license when it comes to how they run their groups. “I think giving the leaders a chance to be fully in charge of the small groups gives them ownership and allows them to feel like they have a specific role during program hours,” Lexi says. “It also helps the leaders get to know a few specific kids better. It’s hard for just one leader to know every kid, but if we divide up, we know we can reach out to all of the kids.”
The future of Kids Create small group ministry
Lexi first started working with Ciudad Nueva as a Border Fellow in August 2017. She was hired as Ciudad Nueva’s administrative assistant in January 2018, then as the Middle School coordinator in March 2018. Lexi also serves as the organization’s office manager and volunteer coordinator, and she assists with fundraising and communications tasks from time to time.
With so many hats to juggle, Lexi has recently hired Drew Holguin to fill the newly created position of Kids Create Assistant Coordinator. You can read more about Drew in this post.
When Lexi thinks about the future of the middle school program, she knows that she wants to keep the small groups going. “It’s time with the kids that’s a little deeper,” she says. “Small groups allow us to be able to see every kid and hear from them.”
Our mission at Ciudad Nueva is to embody the gospel of Jesus Christ by advancing the renewal and development of central El Paso’s Rio Grande neighborhood through the empowerment and transformation of its residents. If you would like to help support our work with middle schoolers, please click here for a list of ways you can do so.