In the 2-3 weeks after Thanksgiving, I scurry to meet one-on-one with all of my small group girls one last time before they leave for the break. Since I have college girls and won't see them for six weeks, it's a challenge to figure out how to stay in touch with everyone over the holidays. Every year looks a little different for us, but below are some things we have learned and tried these past three years together.

  • With a lack of structure and routine over the holidays, it takes intentionality and thought to carve out time with God. If I don't plan ahead, I'm not as likely to do it because the busyness of the day takes over. Talk with the people whom you disciple about when and where they can have their time with God, and share with them what you do. Check in with them or even have them check in with another person in the small group over the break to keep accountable with this.

  • Talk through what they will study in Scripture over the break, and if they are nearing the end of what they are currently studying, help them brainstorm what can be next.

  • Several of my girls come from unbelieving and/or dysfunctional families, so being with family over the break can be stressful and discouraging, especially since they're away from their church family and small group for a couple of weeks. Find out how you can be praying for them and areas in which they need to be held accountable (family members they want to share with over the break or certain attitudes/temptations they face when home). Be aware of who might struggle with depression over the break because of loneliness, divorce, death, illness in the family, etc. Text, call, or Skype with them during the holidays to ask how they're doing, to pray for them, and to keep them accountable. So I don't forget, I'll even mark my calendar and set an alarm on my phone as a reminder to check in on certain folks who might struggle as they face the holidays.

  • In your last small group meeting, you can have them swap prayer requests with someone else in the group and have that be the person they pray for and check in on during the break. This keeps them all connected to each other and not just connected to you as the small group leader.

  • Work your social media. Whether it's Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or email, find ways to connect and to share with each other over the break. We've tried everything from posting Facebook videos and comments on our Facebook group to tweeting each other and sharing pics. It helps keep each other in the loop on what's happening since you're not seeing each other regularly.

  • Send an actual letter. Who doesn't love getting mail? Besides this, taking the time to write out what you pray for the person or how you have seen God grow and use them can be a huge source of encouragement.

  • Our small group uses the break to read through a book that relates either to what we just finished studying, what we will study in the next semester, or simply a book to aid us in our spiritual growth. For example, we read Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot over the summer to gear us up for studying various passages relating to biblical womanhood in the fall. Over Christmas, we're reading Real Life Discipleship by Jim Putnam in order to learn more about discipling others from one stage of spiritual growth to next. This year when we come back, we will either take our first night back to small group or will do a lunch to discuss what we learned, and in the past, we've shared quotes and thoughts on our Facebook group as we read. Even though we're all in different directions over the break, this is one commonality that we can share about with each other.

  • One of the girls I met with this past week shared some frustration about wanting to intentionally disciple over the break but struggling with the who, when, and what when it's only for such a short amount of time. This can be especially difficult if you no longer live in the same town as your family. While you may not be able to meet a mentee for coffee and study Scripture together once a week during Christmas like you can during the semester, you can pray for opportunities to share, be aware of who is around you, and take advantage of the opportunities as they come. Who do you interact with regularly over the holidays? Where do they stand with Christ? How can you encourage and share with them in the time that you do have? Who are the lost people or younger believers in your family that you can pour into? Help those whom you disciple consider how they can best use the time that they do have to invest in others around them over the break.

How do you lead others well over the holidays? Please comment and share what you have learned!