My husband Kenny and I like to tell people that we have an official “family prayer” we say every day. It’s really super spiritual and it goes like this…

God, please help us have FUN.

I know, it’s awesome.

And, ok, we don’t actually pray that every day (only sometimes). But we definitely do consider having fun to be a priority – especially as Small Group Leaders.

So we laugh a lot. We do stupid things. We try to pursue something a guy named Bob Goff calls “whimsy.” We try not to take life, or ourselves, too seriously. And we try to help our students to do the same.

(That usually isn’t very difficult, by the way – things like smiles and joy and laughter are pretty contagious.)

To be honest, though, it took me a while to see the value of fun when it came to my small group. I used to sometimes walk away from small group discouraged. I worried our conversations weren’t spiritual enough… that I let them tell too many stupid stories about their days… that we were spending too much time laughing and dancing and doing cartwheel competitions and not enough time studying the Bible.

Eventually though, as I grew in my leadership and in my own faith, I began to understand the holiness of even the most ordinary moments we shared together – especially the ones where we simply laughed and played and enjoyed one another’s company.

Eventually I learned that something really powerful happens when a small group can simply have fun together

When fun and play and laughter happen…

  • We get to experience and express some of the joy and freedom we find in Christ.
  • We help our students learn to not take themselves too seriously.
  • We strengthen friendships and create community.
  • We make memories.
  • We build trust.
  • We create a tribe.

Fun is a powerful thing.

I’ve been with my small group for 9 years now, and I recently asked my girls what kinds of things from our time together have meant the most to them. Do you know what they said? Apple picking every fall. Screaming at awful scary movies. Failed practical jokes. The hilarious and awkward questions they asked when they were younger. Embarrassing moments. Dance parties. Sleepovers. The memories and the laughter and the relationships.

I’m convinced it’s because we’ve had so much fun together over the years that, today, our relationships are so strong and our conversations so deep and honest. They know I don’t do this Small Group Leader thing out of obligation – I do it because I actually like being with them.

And to a teenager (to anyone, really) that’s a really big deal.

So, if you haven’t done it recently, go make some memories with your small group. Like… now. Go on an adventure. Be silly. Be spontaneous. Laugh. Laugh some more.

And hey, let me pray for you… God, please help them have so much fun.

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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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