The Source for Youth Ministry


A QUICK EAVESDROP OF
THE SOURCE4YM PODCAST, EPISODE #13


DAVID: ... let's move on to Sin #2.

JONATHAN: Let's do it.

DAVID: Sin #2 is "Have NO rules for small group management."

JONATHAN: Ha ha. Another one I think we all do.

DAVID: Yeah, I mean, simple things like, "only one person talking at once," or "respect everyone'sopinion in the room regardless of how correct or incorrect it may be." We say, "you can't say that'sSTUPID, and we pretty much outlaw body slamming in the small groups.

We just want to kind of lay down some ground rules to get everybody on the same page so they know what theexpectations are during the session together, so that it's a positive experience for everybody.

JONATHAN: You know what? A lot of our volunteers are GEN Y, and I'm gonna pick on GEN Y for a second.GEN Y is this younger generation of college students all the way up to, I think 27, 28 years old right now.And I think a lot of GEN Y thinks, "Oh, I gotta be these kids' friends."

DAVID: Right.

JONATHAN: And you know what, GEN X, and Boomers... all staff do that, but especially GEN Y. I've noticedthis out of GEN Y. They go, "Oh, I don't want to come in here and be all 'up in their face' coming down onthem and saying, 'here's the rules!'" So they want to be friends. They don't want to enforce rules so theyallow the kids to just take over the group, talk whenever they want and interrupt each other

DAVID: Yeah. Jonathan, you're right-great observation. But that comes at a pretty high price. You know,when you got one person who is disobeying the rules or being disrespectful, it's kind of robbing all the otherstudents in the small group session from having a dynamic conversation with their leader.

JONATHAN: OK. Two weeks ago, I'm sitting in a small group... There's about 6 kids sitting around and thisguy's leading the small group and he immediately throws out a question and this one kid, the one kid that answersevery question, who won't shut up, is like "yeah, blah blah blah," and he answers it... another kid islike, "Yeah, well not me!" And these two kids are just taking over the group, arguing back and forth andthe guy's letting them. Meanwhile, all the other kids don't say anything...

Because the small group leader doesn't want to interrupt and say, "Come on guys, let's bring it back." So thesekids are now taking over the group. I sat there for 20 minutes and there were 2 kids who never uttered a word.

DAVID: Yeah, and I don't "declare" this at any point in our session, but this is kind of an unspoken rulein our small group that we run our small groups by. I want everyone in the small group to talk at least once duringour sessions. It's one of the things we did, one of the strategies we developed to kind of manage the group was...Idon't know anything about "sheeping" or "shepherding" or whatever that verb is, but...

JONATHAN: Sure. I don't think it's sheeping! For sure!

DAVID: Ha ha. I don't think it is either. But you see that biblical, Old Testament passage, or picture of ashepherd that, you know, has got that crook in his hand and he's kinda giving direction to the sheep. But then yougot that sheepdog that's kinda running around barking, making a lot of noise, kinda keeping everybody in line.

JONATHAN: Sure.

DAVID: And so, what we did at our church, Jonathan, is we said, "OK, if Jonathan is gonna be the small groupleader for the day, then I'm gonna be his sheepdog."

JONATHAN: Oh.

DAVID: So, Jonathan's got the lesson, he's got the Scripture, he's got the wrap up, he's got the small groupq's, and I'm gonna sit opposite of him and Jonathan is gonna kind of lead the discussion for the whole group, but I'mgonna sit way away from Jonathan, you know, maybe where the troublesome kids are sitting, and I'm gonna be like, "Psst!Hey! Knock it off!" You know, "Be quiet. Pay attention. Focus."

JONATHAN: Good cop, bad cop.

DAVID: Yeah, or "bad cop, worse cop" depending on who your leaders are. But, yeah, we just called it the shepherdand the sheepdog. We just run a couple of leaders in the room.

JONATHAN: That's cool. So you have somebody available to basically grab and mug that kid that won't shut up.

DAVID: Absolutely! Headlocks are completely permitted as long as they're given by adult leaders.

Click here to listen to this podcast and see what other violent means David and Jonathan employ to run effective small groups.