Have you ever been trying to lead a discussion with students when chaos erupts? You were in the middle of trying to get your students to discuss the importance of Jesus’ death on the cross for their lives, and chaos breaks out.
The mention of the cross reminds Jamie of the cool cross necklace that she saw at the mall last weekend. This sparks a group of girls discussing their latest shopping adventure.
All the while, Stephen, after thinking of the gruesome nature of Christ’s death, remembers the great time that he had playing his shooter game on Playstation 3 yesterday. The rest of the guys quickly jump into this conversation spreading tales of violence and victory.
Before you know it, the discussion that you intended has been quickly replaced with a myriad of discussions. The students appear to be enjoying themselves, but they have gone completely ADD with regard to the Bible study.
How does a youth leader navigate these murky waters between a discussion and many random discussions?
The key is the talking ball. This is a very simple concept that will revolutionize your discussions with students. The talking ball is a ball, or other chosen object, that serves as the facilitator for the discussion.
The talking ball is established as the object that gives students permission to talk. It is then passed around the group in a way very similar to the game “hot potato” throughout the group. The student with the talking ball has the floor and is able to give input into the discussion.
When using the talking ball, remember that you as the leader are the only one that has permission to talk without the talking ball. This insures that you maintain control.
Typically, it is best to begin discussion groups without the talking ball in play. This will allow the group to be able to more freely discuss, but you should always have the talking ball handy in case it is needed.
When introducing the talking ball, it usually works best to have students pass the ball to other students for their portion of the discussion. If this gets crazy, you should have students pass the ball back to an adult leader who will then pass it to a student.
Discussion times are important, but they must not become chaos. Add the talking ball to your tools. You will be glad to see the talking ball begin to break through the noise to get to the discussion that you desire.