I don’t know how you measure the effectiveness of your small group time. Maybe you get excited when your few show up ready to recite their memory verse. Maybe you celebrate the days your little angels sit perfectly still and are fully attentive to the teaching. Maybe you beam with pride as they leave knowing a game plan for applying what they learned.
For me, Sundays often end with this assessment: “No one smashed his head on the concrete floor. That paper airplane didn’t hit her in the eye. Nobody left bleeding. Chalk today up as a win!”
My first-grade boys wrestle. They run. They try to jump over the other kids. They slide into our small group circle like the rug is home plate on their little league field.
On top of that, there are times when I have to stop everything to break up a fight over the contraband Hot Wheels or to ask a child to apologize for calling another one stupid.
(Does any of this sound familiar?)
Chaos management is an important part of the small group leader job description.
It certainly doesn’t feel like the most meaningful aspect, but it matters. It’s not just about minimizing distractions; it’s also about keeping my few safe. I can’t have them hurting each other. Many weeks that means that I or another leader have to step in and enforce some simple ground rules. It isn’t always easy. Or fun.
When I have to be a disciplinarian though, that’s also when I have an opportunity to lean in and show those students that I am still on their side. I can let them know that I do see them. I see their energy, their excitement, and their need for attention. I see their caring hearts and their curious minds. I see that they are soaking up more from our time together than I might first think.
Even when I think they aren’t listening to a word I say, I know my kids watch to see how I’ll respond to conflict. I may need to call in reinforcements or take an extra second to regroup, but I have to find ways to manage the craziness while ensuring that my few all feel accepted and loved. They need to know that I may not like how they are acting, but I still like them.
By Laura Miller