We all have traditions. Some we may dread, like visiting an eccentric aunt’s home every Thanksgiving. Others we may cherish, like making gingerbread cookies with our kids every Christmas. No matter our feelings toward the various traditions in our lives, each one contributes an important role in our sense of belonging and value. We know we are part of our family when we are part of our traditions. Similarly, our small groups can discover a deeper bond when we intentionally use traditions to help us show up predictably and create safe spaces.
A small group tradition can be anything the group does together on a regular basis to celebrate their bond to one another. These traditions can create meaning in any phase. In fact, most traditions are pretty simple, and some you may not even see as traditions initially.
Maybe you greet your preschoolers every week by singing a song together.
Maybe you have a “high five” ritual you go through with each of your elementary kids.
Maybe your middle school students take the time each month to write notes of encouragement to others.
Maybe your high school students take time each month to serve at a local food pantry.
Each tradition we hold lets the kids in our groups know they belong. The security and value this provides can be transforming over time and can teach values that we may not be able to teach in just one weekend.
So whether you are considering a new holiday tradition, creating a milestone tradition, or simply looking for ways to make your weekly traditions more personal, here are some things to consider.
Keep traditions simple, but personal.
If you are presenting your kindergarten small group with their first bibles, nothing makes the kids disinterested faster than having an overly complex or drawn out process. When you keep a tradition simple, you make room for it to be personalized for each member. When you keep a tradition simple you allow room for each kid to contribute their own flare to the tradition. When you keep a tradition simple you make it easier for the kids to remember and maybe even replicate later in their lives. Remember, often less is more.
Make traditions fun.
Fun is the fuel that keeps traditions going. Not all traditions need to be serious (though serious traditions can also be fun!). A large part of the experience is remembering it is fun to belong in the group and discover your uniqueness together. What are some ways you can celebrate what makes your group special and how can you make that celebration fun? Without fun, traditions begin to lose their appeal and eventually their meaning. When fun is intentionally a part of our traditions, it gives everyone permission to contribute.
Remember, consistency is key.
This might sound obvious when we’re talking about traditions, but it is important. Every tradition started with a first time. They only became a tradition, however, when they were repeated. A good question to ask yourself might be, “would your kids miss it if the tradition didn’t take place?” By staying consistent we create a sense of security and a sense of expectation. Our groups have something unique and meaningful to look forward to at each transition, milestone or holiday.
When we keep traditions simple, fun and consistent we repeat meaningful behaviors over time with our groups. These traditions become part of each kid’s story. Part of how they understand being part of a small group, or the church. It gives them a tool to use to celebrate their relationships and their uniqueness.
What traditions does your small group have that are still working?
What traditions need some life breathed into them?
What traditions have run their course and might need to be replaced?
What are some new traditions you can create for your group?
Share your tradition ideas below!