Last night was one of two small group Meet N Greet Nights that we have for all our leaders, students and parents to meet each other before we head out and officially launch our groups. It is a fun/crazy night. I get pulled in all different directions about different things but I would say one of the most common situations is talking with a parent about their student who is standing right next to them and they are speaking about them as if they were not even there. The student does not want to be there and they are being forced by their parents to try this whole small group thing.
So what do you do when a student is digging their heels in the sand not wanting to give small groups a chance and to a parent who desperately want to see them in a group? I hope some of these tips I personally used tonight would help you shepherd a reluctant student and wishful parent.
Listen to the parent – For the most part, the parent is speaking some truth about the insight of the students mind and heart. Take that in, listen, make sure they know that you genuinely care with their concern for their student. After all, it is their student and they know the potential of life change that happens in small groups.
Talk to the parent alone – I usually introduce the student to the leader and then have a one-on-one with the parent. I let them know that it is normal that they are resisting to come and they we do not want to force anyone to be somewhere where they do not want to be. I encourage them to encourage their student to give it a try but be supportive and I let them know I will talk to them individually as well. Also, let them know the group is not the only and final option, that if there is another group of a friend he wants to try, we will do that as well.
Talk to the student alone – I usually will pull the student aside after the parents go to the parent meeting we do. Here, I get a real feel about how they are feeling about the group. Most of the time their parents are exaggerating a little and they are okay to try out the group. Other times, they really are not having the idea of being in a small group and I challenge them to give the group a try for 4 weeks. Try it for 4 weeks and if they do not like it still, they can be changed into another group or they do not have to be a group this year. Nine times out of ten, they usually stay in the group for the year because over the 4 weeks, they get to know the leaders and other students and they form relationships. I always say, if they do not like it after 4 weeks, I’ll take them out to dinner on me (I’ve only had to do this once ha!).
Follow up – If they end up deciding something different, make sure to follow-up with any request that they have. Whether it’s finding another group that works, changing the night, or whatever. Follow up with their parents. Follow up with the student. Follow up with the leader. Try your hardest to not let anyone fall through the cracks.