One of the things I’ve learned over the past few years as a student small group leader is that distractions during small group time can be, well, distracting. Sometimes it’s not a big deal but I’ve had times where one guy was sharing something really heavy, some problem or issue and then another student who got to the meeting late, or a cell phone ringing with a call or text message just totally kills the moment. It breaks the stride of the person talking and it can ruin the moment or totally take the punch out of some killer Bible scripture.
There are several ways to keep distractions to a minimum and I realize that sometimes distractions are unavoidable. If you’re meeting in a host home you may have to deal with dogs barking and phones ringing. Most host home parents are sympathetic to your cause and will do their best to keep household distractions to a minimum during your small group time. If it becomes a problem you should not hesitate to approach them and ask if they can help you out with keeping noise and distractions to a minimum.
Students coming in late can be a big distraction. My group is a very close-knit group, so when one of them comes in late it usually involves everyone hugging everyone. I love that they are really close, but I hate the two-minute distraction and everyone losing their place and the momentum of the study. If I know one of them is running late I usually won’t start the meeting until everyone is in place.
I used to take cell phones and put them in a box during the meeting. This year I had seniors who were really good at not using cell phones so at about the halfway point of the year I didn’t make them put their cell phones in a box. But I made it clear that if it became a problem we would go back to that. It never did become a problem.
Sometimes I had to discipline myself, it can sometimes become easy for the discussion to wander off of topic. As the leader you need to get the discussion back on topic.
Question: Do you have any tricks to keeping distractions to a minimum?