Family Ministry Reflections: How "The 527 Tribe" Was Born

Published January 11, 2022 by Hannah Rollins

Did you know that "527" in The 527 Tribe means 5th to 7th graders? The Tribe, for short, is the place for our fifth, sixth, and seventh grade youth at South Main. Five years ago, as Mrs. Dolores returned from her sabbatical, where she had dreamed up a new structure of the family ministry, The 527 Tribe was born.

We spent months preparing for the big promotion Sunday in August of 2017, where we would reveal our new space and begin to build the culture that is what we now know it to be. Our very talented Greta Buehrle turned an old gym, which I've been told had a very distinct smell, into one of the most perfect settings for youth in our church. In The Tribe Space, the Activities Building, the gym, the Pine Room, whatever name you may have once referred to it as, we now have a robust library with a wall you can color, a stage that has hosted our annual talent show as well as small group, the biggest couch you've ever seen, a very full refrigerator, and a ball closet with every type of ball you can dream of. And while we have a beautiful and well equipped space over in The 527 Tribe, the thing that is the most impressive is the youth.

As I mentioned, The 527 Tribe was born out of a dream Mrs. Dolores had, which was to make a space that was developmentally appropriate, consistent, and most of all affirming for our youth. That looked like making a separate space for our fifth, sixth, and seventh graders. Our fifth graders are so ready to move up to a new space after being leaders in fourth grade as MainKids. When our fifth graders move schools and head off to sixth grade, they can find stability and familiarity at church, as everything else is changing. Our seventh graders serve as one of the key components to leading and continuing to build the culture of The 527 Tribe. You will see written largely across the wall, "If you're here, you're awesome," and we take that seriously. Every time a youth shows up, we strive to show them God's love and give them a space for respite, whether they need to be a little wild or a little restful. 

We spend almost all of our time thinking about what activities, trips, lessons, and stories they need to help build them up during this particular time in their lives. If you've ever known a fifth, sixth, or seventh grader, you know they are like sponges, soaking it all up and The 527 Tribe leaders recognize we have a great opportunity to grow their hearts and minds in a healthy and affirming way.