Every small group has the student that I affectionately refer to as “The Interrupter.” Now let’s be clear here. If you lead middle school guys like I do, they’re all interrupters. But then there’s The Interrupter. Big difference. You know the kid I’m talking about.
The Interrupter interrupts small group at a level no other student does. They tell jokes, share gossip, make off-topic comments, and may or may not shout “Potatoes!” at random times during group.
The obvious problem with The Interrupter is that he or she prevents the rest of the group from having meaningful conversation. What’s worse, by sharing gossip or making off-topic comments, The Interrupter is communicating to the rest of the group, This isn’t a safe place. This isn’t a place for real conversation.
The solution to the problem is to ask your student pastor to move The Interrupter to a different small group. (Okay, maybe that’s not the best plan.)
The real solution lies in getting The Interrupter on your side.
Before I share what’s worked for me, it’s important to realize what The Interrupter wants: attention. And trying to take their attention away by shushing them doesn’t usually work. The more you try to “shush” them, the louder they seem to get.
In my experience, the best solution isn’t to take their attention away, it’s to give them more responsibility during small group.
Before small group starts, pull The Interrupter aside and explain to them that the rest of the group is watching them. Tell The Interrupter that you really want the group to have a good conversation this week, and that you can’t do it alone. Ask The Interrupter, “Will you help me this week keep the group on track?” Then, give him or her a question or two to ask the group to get the conversation started.
By giving The Interrupter more responsibility, you’re not trying to take away the attention they’re desperately trying to preserve; you’re trying to focus their desire for attention in a more productive direction by teaching them how to lead.
Chances are, The Interrupter is not being taught how to lead in other areas of their life. Chances are, they’re being shushed a lot at school and maybe even at home. Your small group might be the only place where they learn how to control their desire for attention and put it to good use.
When it’s you versus The Interrupter, your whole small group loses. Your group is no longer a safe place and everyone misses out on meaningful conversation. When it’s you plus The Interrupter, everyone wins. You don’t have to fight for control in the group, The Interrupter learns how to lead, and everyone gets better conversation.
Latest posts by CJ Palmer (see all)
- What To Do If You Have A Bad Co-Leader - March 15, 2017
- When the Going Gets Tough And You Feel Like Giving Up - December 23, 2016
- You Might be a Middle School SGL if… - November 21, 2016