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Surviving Summer in Small Groups

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

As shifting summer schedules create challenges for consistent connection, many of our small groups take a break during the summer. This break from the regular meeting schedule can be helpful, even refreshing to a small group, but it doesn’t have to mean a break from the small group altogether.

At Southwood, our small groups focus on three key relationships, not three key group meetings. Our relationships with each other, with God, and with our neighbors continue through the summer even when our regular meeting schedule gets interrupted. In fact, many groups find the change of pace in the summer to be an open door to new ways to be intentional in these relationships. Here are just a couple ways our small groups deepen their relationships even during a “break”:

1) Join together in an activity already on someone’s schedule. A weekly Tuesday night small group meeting may have fallen off your summer calendar, but for many of us other summer events have been added. Some families start spending time at the pool, others have baseball games three nights a week, and others head downtown for a movie or concert in the park. In some ways the summer schedule can give small groups an increased opportunity to share life together by joining each other in what we’re already doing. Think intentionally about what’s going on in the lives of the other members in your group and show up to share it with them. Hate the pool, the ballpark, or the downtown scene? That’s OK; you love your small group members!

2) Connect with subsets of the small group. A group cookout may be a great idea for the summer. But sometimes seemingly every week of the summer, at least one member of the group is on vacation. Have the cookout anyway. Maybe just invite one family in the group over. Maybe include their kids. The deepening of relationships between individuals within the group will benefit the group dynamic when you’re all able to get back together.

3) Invite someone beyond the group to join you. Summer is a great time to include a neighbor in a small group activity. A backyard cookout, an afternoon at the playground, or the Southwood .5K is often an easier way for someone not involved in your group to develop relationships and connection than a formal group meeting. Take advantage of the summer schedule to think of people in the church or in your neighborhood that you’ve been wanting to include and connect with. 

As our small groups enjoy the “break” that summer offers, the goal is that they’ll also benefit from new relational opportunities that are different for each group. Our relationships with each other, with God, and with our neighbors don’t stop when our regular group meetings do. Let’s stay involved in each other’s lives and look for new ways to share community together this summer.


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Recommended Reading

You'll find most of my recommended books available in the Guest Center at Southwood.

  • You Can Change
    You Can Change
    Tim Chester

    How do we mortify sin? How do we address the sin in our lives that reignite like a trick birthday candle we thought we had already blown out of our lives? This is a careful and thoroughly theological book that is hopeful without avoiding honesty. It is practical without being legalistic. It gets to the root of the sinful areas of our lives without offering a prescriptive regimen to hide behind avoiding the grace that has the only true power to teach “us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14

  • Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
    Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
    Timothy Lane & Paul Tripp

    Small groups would be easy if weren’t for the people in the group! This book will help equip you to see your own sin first and provide the courage and humility to address it in others.

  • The Heart of a Servant Leader

    This is a collection of letters written by Jack Miller to people experiencing real-life concerns and struggles. Through these gracious and honest letters you will learn how to humbly offer to others (and yourself!) hope, repentance, and courage that flows from the truth of the gospel of grace.  Though this isn’t a “how to” book full of nifty steps to Your Best Gospel Life Now. It’s a glimpse into the heart of a person who has found food at the Cross, and you watch (and learn) as he humbly points others to the feast.

  • Comforts From The Cross
    Comforts From The Cross
    Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

    This 31 day devotional will bring you to the foot of the cross to remember and celebrate the truth of the gospel of grace, and develop skills that will help “inform, free, gladden, and enliven your soul every day.” Becoming proficient in applying the Gospel of grace to our own hearts is a key skill that is well worth our effort to develop.

Recommended Listening

  • Christ PCA - Nashville
    Scott Sauls and CPC Staff

    Listen to sermons from Senior Pastor Scott Sauls and other CPC pastors at a sister church.

  • Lookout Mountain PCA
    Joe Novenson and LMPC Staff

    Check out sermons by Senior Pastor Joe Novenson and other LMPC pastors at a sister church.

  • Steve Brown Etc.
    Steve Brown

    Steve Brown’s unique blend of orthodoxy and controversy, humor and profundity, and a refusal to play religious games will give you permission you have needed to stop being so uptight. And even if it’s for 30 minutes, you just might experience radical freedom, infectious joy and maybe even a bit of surprising faithfulness.

Recommended Links

  • Tim Chester: reformed spirituality and missional church
    Tim Chester

    Tim has an incredible way of applying the Gospel of grace that is both practical and honest with a consistent skillful affinity to point us to Jesus. He is director of The Porterbrook Institute; a church planter with The Crowded House in Sheffield, UK; and the author of over a dozen books including Total Church and You Can Change.

  • Of First Importance
    Living Each Day in the Good of The Gospel

    Here you will find a growing collection of gospel-centered quotes to help reorient your thoughts toward the splendor and grandeur of the person and work of Jesus.