Small Group Leader or Chaos Manager?

Episode 5

Episode Highlights

Strategies for Managing Your Small Group (especially middle school and ninth grade boys)

  • Collect Phones – put in a pile or in a basket for small group time
  • Everyone sit in a circle and at the same level – all on the floor or all in chairs. But be in a circle.
  • Be consistent – when someone’s not doing what they’re supposed to, say something. They will try the same thing again in five minutes to see if you’ll say something, so do say something again and again.
  • Use their names.

When someone is not behaving appropriately:

  • Instead of telling them what they are doing wrong, ask them questions that will make them identify their behavior. Instead of saying “you’re being rude” or “that’s disrespectful,” ask, “Are you being respectful right now?” or “Do you think your behavior/that response is respectful/appropriate for small group?” Make sure they answer the question.
  • Talk to the student one-on-one after small group.
  • Have students remove themselves from the room and take a few minutes in the hallway. Student Ministry leaders should be there to talk to them about it, so you can continue on with the group. 
  • Make a call to the parent.

Group Setting and Dynamics

Change up the meeting setting. Go from sitting on the floor to sitting in chairs or vice versa.  Add a table to the room and sit around a table. Take a walk around the inside of the campus and stop at different places to do a question. If the weather is nice, do the same thing outside. Occasionally do something fun – go totally off topic for one night. Is your group more than ten people this week? Split in two if there are two leaders present.

Strategies for Engagement

  • Get teens who need to move, moving at the start of group – push-up contest, jumping jacks, a walk around the building.
  • Try to never READ a question verbatim. Reword it slightly or put your own spin on it.
  • Sometimes students are hesitant to answer a question that may reveal some personal info. If no one wants to answer, change the question slightly. For example, “What authority figure do you struggle with the most?” could be changed to “What authority figure do you think most ninth graders struggle with?”
  • Roll out butcher paper across the floor and have them draw or write impressions of the message.
  • Answers written on whiteboards.
  • Write questions on index cards and number the cards. Have teens read them.
  • Place questions around the room on posters and do a round robin. This gets them moving and requires everyone to be involved.
  • Give them a few quiet minutes to journal.
  • Use a talking ball or talking stick. Whoever has stick is the only one talking.
  • Use a numbered beach ball to have student ask the small group questions.

Remember Your Role

You are a mentor, or like and aunt or uncle. They have plenty of friends who are their age. They don’t need more of them. Show them relationships begin with respect, both showing it to them and expecting it from them.