We’ve probably all seen the power of celebrating traditions in our families (just think about your favorite childhood memories – I’m guessing a bunch of them will be connected to a family tradition or two).

But have you ever thought about harnessing the power of traditions for your small group? 

You should!

Traditions are powerful.

The traditions we celebrate have this crazy ability to bind us to the community we celebrate them with.
They establish emotional milestones that stick with us for a lifetime.
The traditions we celebrate are chances to create new memories with the people we love most.
And they remind us of the memories we’ve already shared together.

Establishing your very own traditions as a small group can do some seriously incredible things for your relationships with your few.

Maybe it’s a tradition your whole group does together (like apple-picking every autumn, a service project every year around the holidays, or a special ritual you come up with to celebrate birthdays).

Or maybe there are some traditions you can celebrate with each of your few, individually.

I think Jessica was in 8th grade when she first started inviting me to her dance recitals. I remember her being a little nervous at first, like maybe she was worried I wouldn’t want to come. I did go, of course, and she was so happy that I wanted to support her and see her dance. Her parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and best friends were all there, too. We sat in the front row, took tons of terrible blurry pictures, cheered way too loudly every time she stepped on stage, gave her flowers, took more pictures, and stayed out late eating ice cream. Jessica, her closest family and friends, and me.

Then, in 9th grade, she said, “You’re coming to my dance recital again, right?” Again, I went. Front row with her family, more photos that didn’t turn out, more obnoxious applause, more flowers, and more late-night ice cream. And, suddenly, it was a tradition. I went again in 10th grade. Then again in 11th grade. And again in 12th grade for her final recital before she graduated.

To share in that tradition with Jessica, celebrating her alongside the people who meant the most to her, was a big deal – for me, for her and for her family, too. In the language of Lead Small, our tradition of celebrating her dance recitals became an opportunity for me to “show up predictably” for one of my few, year after year.

Now that my girls have graduated high school, I’m not technically their Small Group Leader anymore and the dynamics of our “small group” look a little different. But, in this new phase of life, it’s exciting to continue honoring some of our old traditions (I don’t think apple picking and scary movies in the fall will ever get old) while establishing some brand new ones. Last month, we took a little weekend road trip at the end of their spring semester to see a concert and explore a new city… and I think we just might have discovered our favorite new tradition.

How about you? What are some traditions you celebrate with your small group? Are there any new traditions you plan to start?

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Elle Campbell

Elle works in middle school ministry with her husband, Kenny, at The Chapel in Buffalo, New York, where she oversees small groups and volunteer development. When Elle isn’t hanging out with middle school students and their small group leaders, she’s blogging and developing resources for Stuff You Can Use—a site she and Kenny developed to connect student and children’s ministry workers with super helpful, practical, and high-quality ideas and resources.

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