We've all been there. You walk into a Sunday School Classroom or show up for a small group meeting and it's just you and the teacher. Or maybe you were the teacher. Maybe that happened last Sunday. And you vowed to never come back.
Let's face it, it's just awkward and scary to be one of two or three people in the room. It's like you've just stepped into a scene from Napoleon Dynamite, and who wants to do that? Gosh!
You're summer college crowd has dispersed, and the local few want to hang with you, but they don't want to do awkward. You want to start a college group, but you know for a time, there will only be a few, and you really don't want it to be, well, awkward. So what do you do?
First things first, make a commitment to the students. College ministry will go on, and you as the leader, or leaders, won't be afraid of a small group. Let your students know that you care enough to be there even when the group is small. Celebrate who you is present with you. You'll communicate that they matter as an individual and not just as a part of a bigger group.
Work with who you have. Success in college ministry isn't measured by the number of students you have coming, but by whether disciples are being made. Ask yourself, "who's coming?" "Where are they spiritually?" "How can I most effectively move them forward in their discipleship?" Don't be afraid to break out of the classroom model to accomplish your goal.
Meeting one on one for coffee can be just as productive as a Bible study small group.
Join another group for a while. Consider being a part of a larger group, like a “Young Adult” group that breaks into smaller affinity groups for discussion and prayer times. The larger group will help create a more comfortable environment for fellowship while the smaller group is developing deeper relationships. As the smaller group grows you may want to move to becoming more independent.
Look for ways to create "critical mass." What number of students would make the group feel less awkward? It may depend partly on who is in your group. A group that connects well can be comfortable with just 4 or 5 students, but a group of 10 is a good starting goal. If a few people are missing one week, you still should have enough people to carry discussion.
Recruit specific adults leaders that will participate and make the group a friendly and inviting place to be. Let them know that you are trying to grow this group so that they can be an intentional part of making the group open and inviting. Four students plus 3 or 4 leaders can make a dynamic group, and leaders can share responsibilities for mentoring and teaching.
Awkwardness happens, but it doesn't have to last forever. Ask good honest questions, and don't be afraid to look for solutions outside of your traditional framework. Growing your college ministry may be a process, but if it is focused on discipling students it will be well worth the effort.