Safe Places to Share

Uprising Episode 3

Episode Highlights

Creating a safe place begins with respect and trust.
Many teens do not have a safe place to be themselves, to explore big questions, to pursue faith, to be truly known and loved. For some, not even home is safe. For sure, school is not safe for this.

What does it take to create a safe place in small group?

  1. A student does not trust you until they know you. And until you know them. Remember things about them: Follow up on what they talked about the week before. How did that test go?
  2. A student does not respect you until you give them a reason to respect you. Do this by establishing boundaries. Set boundaries and expectations early and often.
  3. You will have to repeat expectations over and over again. Every week in the beginning and several times a day during group!

Expectations for Small groups: Set early and often.
Leaders must be coached in this
Come up with a contract with your small group. It could include the 5 P’s:

  1. Prepared: The leader should come prepared, know the questions and having a general idea where the discussion will go. 
  2. Private: What’s said here stays here.
  3. Positive: Lift one another up through encouragement, never put down.
  4. Personal: Share about your life as you feel comfortable, listen well to others, and be open to how the group will support and challenge you.
  5. Prayer: Commit to praying with and for each other.

How you manage tension will earn their trust or close them off.

  • Tension can actually be a good thing.
  • Accept and manage it. They are watching. How you deal with it has the potential to give them a sense of safety and security.
  • Tension can include things like conflict, hard questions, discipline, fears.
  • You are the leader, so breed trust, confidentiality, and honesty.
  • You model authenticity
  • You model honesty

Break confidentiality when a kid is hurting themselves, a kid is being hurt, and kid is hurting someone else.

How to Handle disruption:

  • Shut down gossip – STRICT NO NAME POLICY.
  • Use the name of a teen when you are calling out their behavior (Johnny, you need to stop talking to Billy.) General callouts (Everyone, stop talking!) do not work.
  • Privately address individual issues as they arise.
  • Get the teens involved – have them read questions, pass around a talking stick, put thinking putty in their hands.
  • Pray to start and pray to end.
  • SIT IN A CIRCLE – this is far more important than it seems.
  • Shut down side conversations, perhaps by asking a question.
  • Ask your coach for techniques.
  • Communicate expectations regularly!