You hate to have to do it — but sometimes you have to remove a student from your small group. Here are some suggested steps to help you in the process from start to finish:
1. Share expectations and give boundaries from the beginning
You can’t let one student rule it for the whole group. I like the 3 Strikes Rule myself – it gives you a chance for some warnings before drastic measures have to be taken. Put the power to win/lose in their hands – if they want to be in the group they’ve got three chances. At the end of a night, if someone has really blown it, let them know they’ve got a strike against them and they need to change their behavior. Go public with your plan, and consider giving everyone back a “strike” at the half-way point of the small group year. Bottom line: be grace-filled but firm.
2. Talk to the student directly when there’s a problem
Removing a student from a small group should never come as any surprise to them. Talk to the problem student when you first see a warning sign, and coach them to the correct behavior. Keep in constant communication with the student so they know they are failing to meet your expectations. Don’t bring the other members of your small group into the correction, with the exception of perhaps an acknowledgment and that you are working toward a resolution.
3. You Probably Need to Ask Them to Take a Couple Weeks Off
Don’t write them off completely from the get-go, maybe before drastic measures give them a few weeks off from small group. Ask them to think about the commitment they made at the beginning of the year to the small group and if they would like to come back and honor that commitment. You’d be amazed at how powerful a “time out” can be for them (as well as how the other students in your group will respond when they hear what went down).
4. Its Time to Engage the Parents
Don’t let a decisions as important (and potentially volatile) be done in isolation. Talk to mom and dad through the process and partner with them in helping the student’s behavior change for the better. If you can engage them during the time out stage, it’ll really help if/when you have to remove them altogether.
5. Always Keep in Communication with the Leaders of the Student Ministry
Just like you bring the parents into the matter, also bring the student ministry leader to the discussion as well. Inform them of the history of your small group and what you’ve done to help resolve the situation up to this point. Ask them to pray with you, and follow the instructions given to you by the leadership. They might try to “repot” the kid in a different group to see if a change in scenery brings a change of heart.
6. If all Else Fails … Remove the Student and Ask Them to Consider Small Groups Next Year
If a student does have to be permanently removed and all else has failed, at least leave the door open for next year. A lot can change in a year in the life of a high school student (especially the freshman/sophomore years), so hopefully they’ll take it more seriously next time.