Help! My Small Group Has Been Hijacked!

Help! My Small Group Has Been Hijacked!

Four common hijackers and ways to respond
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The Leader Hijacker

This hijacker is like a back-seat driver that gives you constant directions on how to best lead the group. The Leader Hijacker assumes he or she has the best approach to leading and frequently mentions past leadership positions. The other members don't know who to listen to: you or the hijacker.

Taking Control from the Leader Hijacker

Talking directly with the Leader Hijacker will take courage, but it's the quickest way to a result. Sift through his or her comments to see if you can glean anything helpful. Sometimes there will be good suggestions that can benefit the group. If so, mention these helpful suggestions in your conversation, which will keep the atmosphere positive. Tell how you appreciate his or her willingness to share leadership skills and then politely ask the Leader Hijacker to stop doing so at the small-group meetings. Let the Leader Hijacker know that sharing these things during the meeting promotes disunity in the group. Affirm the hijacker by asking for input (at a one-on-one meeting) when you feel you need it, and by offering to listen to suggestions outside of meetings. At the same time, confirm that you are leading in a way that suits your personality and leadership style, noting that it may be different from the hijacker's. If the hijacker makes another comment in a group meeting, respond by saying: "Let's talk about that suggestion outside of the group meeting."

The Late Hijacker

Without fail, this person walks into the small-group meeting late. You've spent 20 minutes building momentum toward a specific point, and right before you ask the most important question the Late Hijacker bursts in. The entrance disrupts the group, and you can't get the group's attention again. The momentum and focus are lost.

Taking Control from the Late Hijacker

Approach the Late Hijacker privately and encourage this person to make a better effort to be on time. Explain how it's hard to get the group refocused once everybody is distracted. If the person can't get there any earlier, encourage them to enter more quietly and sensitively. If the mood seems somber, wait a few minutes before entering so distraction won't be an issue. If the Late Hijacker doesn't stop, you may want to consider encouraging the person to find another small group that fits in his or her schedule better.

—Margaret Feinberg has written several books and accompanying DVD studies including The Organic God, The Sacred Echo, Scouting the Divine, and Pursuing God's Love. For more on Margaret, visit her website:; copyright 2012 by Christianity Today.


  1. When have you encountered these hijackers? What, if anything, did you do?
  2. Do you have any of these hijackers in your current group? If so, create a plan for taking control from them.
  3. Who can you go to for support in this matter? A coach? A director? Another leader?

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