My children have grown up in two different college towns, and it has never taken long for them to figure out which football team everyone is rooting for. My kids have experienced Saturday game days with tailgaters everywhere, flags flying on every corner, the sounds of the marching band in the distance, and the chants of so many different organizations all rooting on the same team. They’ve learned which side we are on, by which jersey we wear to the games and which logos are on the hats. In the two college towns we’ve lived in, it takes all of five minutes for my kids to join the “tribe” of whatever team calls our city home.

The excitement of college football breeds it’s own lifelong tribe, but there are other tribes they quickly wanted to be a part of as well: the kids they eat lunch with, the girls who pass secret notes during school and the kids who round up a kickball game in the neighborhood each weekend. They want so much to be known and to belong to the tribes they see around them.

As a small group leader, you’ve got the privilege of creating your own little tribe each week. You hold the ability to create a weekly space where kids can feel they belong. Here are some helpful ways you can make your tribe inviting to the kids you see each weekend:

Make a tradition. Traditions get a bad rap these days, but the repeated things we do each week can bring comfort and a feeling of safety. What the tradition is, is up to you! Maybe it’s how we sit in a circle when we come into group time, maybe it’s always asking the same question each week before we begin, or maybe it’s a snack (peanut-free, please) that you share each week.

Make it welcoming. The singular number one way to make any kid feel welcome is to know their name. Really, if you can work hard to remember a kid’s name, you are well on your way to making them feel included in and and important part of this valuable tribe.

Make it fun. Do you realize what every parent asks their child upon picking them up from small group, right? “Did you have fun today?” We can argue the merits of whether this is the best question to ask, or we can make it an easy question for kids to answer. Making it fun means you make it a place kids look forward to returning to week in and week out.

Your small group may never have it’s own fight song, but it can still be a place that kids want to belong. You have the chance to lead a tribe every can wants to and can be a part of!


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Jonathan Cliff is a huge advocate for families and believes that the family can be God's primary way of reaching the world that they live in. Jonathan and his wife, Starr, have a full house with two sons, Ryan and Dylan, and one daughter, Lauryn. They have also served as foster parents for many kids over the years, and have a great passion for broken families being restored.'

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