How many of you have ever had the experience of pouring your heart out to the girls you so deeply love only to look over and “Lucy” is laughing at something on her phone?...And all the hands go up!
We live in this wonderful technology filled age where the majority of our people (aka the teens we work with) have their very own smart phones that are glued to their hands at all times.
Sure, them having phones is awesome. You can get in touch with them all of the time. They can share their lives with you via text message all day long.
But let’s be honest, smart phones kill small groups.
No matter who you are or how much self-discipline you have if that phone sitting in your lap lights up with a notification, your mind starts wondering what it is. I fall into that weird category of people that assumes that specific notification is to tell me that the world is ending or something really terrible has happened. Yes, it is awful and terribly exhausting for my brain.
The temptation of that notification or even just the possibilities that the phone in your hand holds bring constant distraction and limit how much you can actually be involved in your small group.
As adults, we can learn some tricks to use for ourselves to keep the distraction at bay. For instance, during small group I keep my phone in my purse.
But our teenagers on the other hand, may not quite be at that point. So what can we do with the ever-present distraction of smart phones?
We have a rule in my small group (some really fabulous 9th grade girls) that everyone puts their phone in the middle of the room FACE DOWN at the beginning of small group. And crazy thing, it works!
Some small group leaders in our student ministry have fancy baskets for their girls to put their phones in, but I just go the easy route and use the convenience of the floor/table.
Now there are two main excuses you will most likely hear from your people.
1. I need to use my Bible app.
2. My mom/dad is going to call me.
If they come at you with option one, there is a really easy solution. Keep a couple of extra Bibles handy if this event should come up. I am not saying that I hate Bible apps. I have a Bible app of my very own that I use often. However, using a Bible app during small group is a breeding ground of distraction. I’m just saying let’s be smart about when we use it.
A few weeks ago a girl in my small group was “using her Bible app” during small group. [We went rogue for ONE WEEK and didn’t put our phones in the center of the room.] But I knew she wasn’t looking at her Bible app because she was sitting next to me and I could see her phone….hello Instagram. I thought I would be really clever and just text her to get her attention back. She didn’t think that was quite as funny as I did. Ergo, get the phones out of the way in the beginning.
Being proactive is better than reactive.
If she throws out the mom/dad card, she may very well have a valid point. When girls in our group (I co-lead with this really cool lady named Laura) have potential emergencies or their parents tell them to keep their phones we honor that. But typically it’s the exception and not the rule.
This is an easy discipline that teaches girls the importance of small group time and the value of what we are doing there.
How do you guys handle the smart phone problem?