With five 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 nine 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 and 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 and 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, and 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, and because of the fact that summer can be so busy, we shut down our groups in our student ministry. I love my guys, and I 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. The only difference is that I don’t have a formal meeting time set for these things to take place.

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

Summer breaks can seem a little intimidating as you wonder what will happen to the bonds that you’ve spent the school year building. And that’s especially true if your few are moving up to another leader. But relationships that exist within the context of your small group aren’t limited to your small group meeting time. To that end, summer break doesn’t have to mean a break from one another!

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