Chronic Lateness

Three practical cures for a common small-group ailment

Acommon frustration among small group leaders is getting groups started on time. It is not unusual to be five or ten minutes past the scheduled starting time while the leader stalls waiting for the arrival of the last few members.

The leader is left in limbo: he doesn't want to waste the time of the people who have already arrived, but he also doesn't want to be in the middle of prayer or study when latecomers straggle in.

How can a small group leader handle this problem? Three simple ABC steps can help leaders conquer this age-old problem.

Agree on expectations.A group covenant or contract that is established as a group is first forming is very helpful. This is the ideal time for the group to establish clear expectations concerning the starting time of the group and the importance (or unimportance) of group members arriving on time. As group members discuss how to constructively and wisely make best use of their small group time, most of them will come to a consensus that arriving on time is important.

This is also the best time to discuss the expectations when a small group member knows he will be arriving late or be absent. That expectation may be as simple as making a phone call to the group leader.

The small group contract is helpful because it becomes a continual reminder of the group members' expectations to arrive and start on time. If your small group is already formed and does not have a covenant, it is never too late to discuss the group's expectations for a specific starting time.

Begin on time.Perhaps it seems obvious that the leader should start the group on time when battling chronic lateness. However, as mentioned earlier, many leaders do not start on time because they are waiting for all the participants to arrive. ...

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