I love our home groups. We meet weekly with students and leaders in homes in our area. We laugh, have a good time, talk about life and point students towards Jesus. There is a certain craziness that comes from home groups. We have all experienced that talkative group and could all probably name those few students that just don’t seem to settle themselves. It can be frustrating, disheartening, disrespectful and we can even just dread it. I hope the last one isn’t the case. Here are a few of my ideas that seem to work for me when leading a group.
- Go over guidelines before group, reminders during group – I set up a few simple guidelines to help manage these group times. Safety, we want this to be a safe place for all kids to come and for them to share their thoughts without others using it against them. The other, respect, helps students not to chat with one another, listen to the speakers and share one a time. Every group, my leaders or myself, go over these guidelines. This gives kids consistency every week and something to point them back to during group when issues arise.
- Seating arrangements – Ask some students to move seats if need before group starts. I really haven’t used this too much but if I look through a room and see the issue before it starts, l will ask someone to just move their seat. I would do this quietly and in a non-confrontational way.
- Non-verbal queues – or as I like to call it “the look.” I just make eye contact with a kid that is go nuts and just make a handle gesture to have them settle down.
- Silence – with a whole group, this is great. Use the awkward silence to your advantage. Kids usually become self aware of what is happening and it is a great way to refocus everyone.
- Redirect – this is when someone may be going on a tangent or being to lose the group. Just say something like “what does this have to do with (topic).” When redirecting the conversation to get back on task questions work great. “Hey, you said this, but how does it apply to what we are talking about” etc.
- One-on-one reminders before group/text message/after group – This goes back to need for relationships with students. If I am in a group and it is getting out of hand, I will text that student, or one near them to help give them a reminder. If there is a pattern of talkative students I will pull them aside just us before group and just go over the expectation of group, why we are there and really express that I’m excited for group and hope they get a lot from it. If it is someone we have been talking about this issue with, text or talk to them after to see how they think it went and praise them if they did a really good job. Even if they did a terrible job I use the 2-1 rule. 2 positive things to 1 negative thing. “Hey you did a great job coming to group tonight and I am glad you said that one comment, however remember next time to…..”
A lot of this stuff has come from my teaching background and experience with groups. The main idea is to keep your management consistent, over time and with all the students, and be relational. When you have a relational ministry, this is your biggest strength in helping run your group time effectively.