Holidays can be busy, hectic, fun or lonely times for your group members. It’s not always easy to lead your small group through the holidays. People are distracted. Our calendars are filled with festivities, Christmas concerts and shopping. For others, painful memories, dysfunctional relationships and fears are magnified.
It can be healthy for your group to break for two to eight weeks over the Christmas holidays, but how can we help our group’s relational momentum to not stall out or to stumble into the end of the year? If we‘re intentional about it, December can be one of the best times of the year to build relationships in our groups. This doesn’t have to be arranged by the leader either. This is a great opportunity for someone in your group who’s gifted or passionate about getting people together.
Here are four ideas for finishing the year well and preparing for a solid start in January:
- Serve or give together
There is no time of the year that people are more inclined to serve those in need than around the holidays. Whether you adopt a family for Christmas or partner with a local not-for-profit initiative to help those in need, collaborate on one of Central’s generosity campaigns, look for an opportunity to serve or give together. Serving together is a bonding experience that creates lasting memories.
- Be social
Lean in the to the spirit of the festivities of Christmas. Whether you have a potluck brunch, go ice-skating, go to the Santa Claus parade together, catch a concert together, or host an Ugly Sweater contest, December is a great time to have fun and experience community together.
- Encourage individual relationships
Often group members depend on their group leader and structure to be responsible for their growth and relationships. Before the last meeting, ensure each person had each other’s contact phone numbers and email addresses, and encourage them to meet someone in the group for coffee during the hiatus. It will take great courage for some of the group members to reach out to another group member, but doing so will build deeper relationships for the next season.
- Look back and celebrate.
As the year comes to a close, take a night to reflect on what God has done in each members’ lives over the past year. One powerful exercise is to share examples of how you’ve seen God work in the lives of each person or couple.
How has God answered the prayers of the group?
What growth steps have people taken?
What changes have group members seen in each other’s lives?
Getting creative can lead to some meaningful, memorable and powerful moments. But whether you’re wrapping up your semester together, or winding down the end of your group’s life cycle, you can capture the opportunity to close out the season on a high note!