One way to do this is to use the words “we” frequently in your discussion. After all, it is “we” who are talking in the discussion. Also, use the children’s names frequently; everybody likes to hear his or her name.
As the leader, keep your speeches short. Don’t make the mistake of launching into a sermon in the middle of a good discussion; there is no quicker way to kill group interaction.
Try to be impartial and listen to everyone’s point of view. That doesn’t mean you must condone or accept a position that goes against the Bible. After the speaker has finished, you could say, “Thank you, [Brad], for your thoughts, but that is not what God says in His Word. The Bible says…”
With little or no guidance or direction in a discussion, students will sometimes pool their ignorance. Don’t let that continue for long. Interject some relevant information that will help to focus the discussion. It is also important not to take sides until you sense that the group has reached the point where a conclusion needs to be drawn or an application made.
If difficult questions arise, don’t panic. Assure your group you will check and get the answer for them by your next meeting. Or, have a member do the research, either during the discussion (if research tools are available) or by the next meeting. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know an answer. Students will recognize a bluff or vague answer, but they will respect you more if you are honest in admitting you don’t know.
The same approach can be used if a question comes up that has no bearing on the discussion. Simply say, “That’s a good question, [Angela]. Let’s talk about it after the lesson. Right now, let’s continue talking about…” then get right back to the subject of your discussion.
If you are well prepared before your meeting begins, if you ask God for His guidance, if you are interested in the subject, and if you treat the students in the discussion with respect and consideration, you should be able to handle most any situation that might arise out of the discussion.