During application time you want the kids to be actively involved. You want them to talk; to answer questions and think deeply and choose to respond biblically to the truth in the lesson.
It will be your job to keep application time focused on the lesson. It can be easy for a discussion to stray off course. Kids want to share stories and talk about life; you need to do your best to keep the discussion from straying into tangents.
Keep it focused with good questions and by guiding the discussion. I’ve talked about preparing and asking good questions in a previous post.
You want the kids to be involved in the discussion. How do you keep them focused? Have a stash of good questions ready to go. Also, be prepared to help guide the conversation. Be ready to ask follow up questions. Be ready to allow for and encourage silence as kids think about a question asked or the topic being discussed.
If the discussion does start to stray off track, interrupt and re-direct the conversation before it gets too far off track.
Say something like, “That sounds interesting, but we will have to talk about it later. Tell me what you think God wanted you to learn about Him today?” Or, “Oh, off-topic! Let’s get back to our Bible point. Tell me about a person in the Bible who has faced a similar situation?”
There are a couple of things you can do when the discussion gets off track.
Use a prearranged signal – talk with your small group about a signal to use that will help everyone to re-focus. It could be something like saying, “Off-topic!” or maybe using a pair of binoculars. When you hold them up, the groups knows it’s time to focus.
Refocus with the central Bible verse or key theme – When the discussion gets off track, help your group re-focus by highlighting the key theme of the lesson or reading again the central Bible verse from the lesson. Focus their attention and then continue the discussion.
* Note: There may be times when something happens that takes the discussion in a whole other direction. The Holy Spirit may be at work directing the conversation. Be sensitive to those possibilities and be ready to go with it. For example, you may unexpectedly have a child open up and share. If the Holy Spirit prompts you to drop the questions you have prepared and take the discussion in that new direction, then do it.