What do you do when you sit down with your few to start group and they are:

  • not focused
  • look bored to death
  • tired
  • on their phones
  • listen to music on the BEATS
  • fighting or gossiping
  • watching youtube on their phones
  • braiding each other’s hair
  • punching holes in the wall
  • fidgeting with the pillows
  • farting
  • screaming or crying
  • and the list can keep going on and on…..and on and on and on…


What do you do? How do you possibly reign them in to have a spiritual conversation? Yes. I know that “all things are possible through Jesus” but getting your few to focus is sometimes a challenge.

Trust me—I experience this small group situation at least once a month and I am pretty sure you do, too. Well a few weeks ago, my co-leaders and I met after group and we clarified how to best manage our few when our few are wanting to do everything but have small group.

Here’s what we came up with for when our few are not focused:

Set the stage. Communicate to your group that group is starting now. Acknowledge that they are distracted and that’s okay. Request that they give you 15 minutes and that is it. Get all the students to agree that they can focus for 15 minutes. If any of them become disrespectful during the 15 minutes he/she will have to come sit by one of the leaders.

Ask an icebreaker question. After your group has agreed to give you 15 minutes, ask an interactive question. My favorite question is: What is your favorite “appropriate” youtube video. Don’t let your student show you the video on their phones. You as the leader record everyone’s favorite video and tell them you will text them everyone’s favorite video after group in a complied list.

Ask a question about the talk. Now tell your few you are shifting gears from videos to what the communicator from stage talked about. Ask questions like: what did you like about the talk? What didn’t you like about the talk? Summarize the talk in 1 or 2 sentences. What is one thing you learned from the talk.

Ask a question about the Bible versed used in the talk. It is important to bring your students back to the scriptures. Ask them about the passage the communicator talked about. Ask questions like: What is the main point of the passage? What in the passage didn’t you understand? What’s God saying to you in the verse?

Ask your few for prayer request. After the Bible talk transition with the question of: How can we pray for one another? What is your one personalized prayer request?

Invite your few to pray in silence for all the prayer requests. Once all the prayer request have been given. Invite your few to pray in silence for 60 seconds. After the 60 seconds is up, one of the leaders prays out loud to close the group.

There you go. That’s what my co-leaders and I came up with. So far this template has helped us think through how to re-direct our distracted group to have a somewhat productive group.

What is the one thing your few do to get your group off of topic?

What would you suggest to a SGL who cannot seem to focus their group?

Would you agree with our model? What would you add, delete, edit?



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Jeremy holds a B.A. in Communication from University of Minnesota as well as a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has a passion for connecting with and learning from student pastors, deliberatively researching, reading, and blogging about student ministry and family ministry, dabbling with online technology and experimenting in ministry lifestyle design and productivity in the church. Jeremy and his wife, Mikaela, live in Alpharetta, Georgia, where he serves as an Orange Specialist with the XP3 Student team.

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