With 5 paper bowls glistening with what was left of the frozen yogurt we had just consumed, our small group bid farewell to the school year.  Our group had been there for each other through the last 9 months and it was awesome to see each one of my guys taking steps to turn more of their lives over to Jesus.  All of them had made decisions in the past to make Jesus their Savior.  But throughout our time together, I was able to see them inviting Jesus to be the Lord of areas of their lives He had not previously been invited into.  We had our ups & downs, but throughout the whole year it was awesome to see the growth within each one of them.

As I was leaving, I prayed for my boys & tried to picture what the summer would hold for each of them.  I had seen each of them grow through the school year because of the encouragement, prayer, time, laughter, & accountability that we had shared for nine months.  I knew that the potential for them to continue to grow would be greater if they would continue to have that accountability through the summer, but our year had run its course & because of everything that makes the summer the summer, we shut down our groups in our student ministry.  I love my guys & want the best for them. Paul nailed how I felt about my guys in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 when he said, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”

Honestly, as I drove home that night I was feeling a bit deflated.

Then it hit me.  Our group was done meeting for the season, but I didn’t have to stop praying for them, spending time with them, building them up, & challenging them to greater discipleship.  I just don’t have a formal meeting time set for these things to take place.

What seemed like a limitation initially, actually frees me up to do more relational discipleship with them.  They expect me to be there for small group…I’m the small group leader…that’s what I’m supposed to do.  It’s altogether different when I invite them to catch a Royals game, grab some of the best BBQ in the world (I don’t care what anyone from Texas, Tennessee, or the Carolinas says), or help me with some work around my yard (talk about cheap help!).  Through all these activities, I can continue to build into these guys & strengthen what we spent nine months building—relationships that help all of us move closer & closer to Jesus.

I’d love some advice from you guys as I move into this unpredictable summer season. How have you kept in touch in years past? Or how do you plan to stay influential over the next three months?

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