Have you ever been to a group meeting where there is no food, background music, or activities?
I am actually part of a group like that now! It lasts from 8 to 9pm on Monday evenings and all we do is sit and chat.
Sometimes, it’s about an interesting topic while other times, we just sit and talk about nothing. Talking about nothing would be much better with a snack or with background music…
Alternatively, I am part of another group where it lasts from 7 to 9pm on Tuesdays, has an hour of visiting time (with provided food), and soft background music to set the mood.
Following the hour of visiting, we discuss the sermon from the past Sunday for the remaining hour.
I always feel much more comfortable in that setting than in the former one.
Advice for when planning group meetings
Whether your group is extremely small or as big as an entire church congregation, it is important to provide a few things for the people to do, a few things for the people to eat, and a few things for the people to enjoy.
1. Provide a few things for the people to do
As I mentioned before, just asking members of the group to sit down and have an unguided conversation for an hour is exhausting.
Also, it doesn’t help that a few people end up getting left out of the conversation (as I often do).
Following the example of the Tuesday night group I mentioned above, have an hour of visiting but also extend the time to have another hour of deeper conversation where each person has a chance to speak.
This is especially helpful for those who aren’t small-talk people. If they don’t get a chance to talk during the visiting time, there is a strong chance for them to speak up about deeply rooted topics.
2. Provide a few things for the people to eat
During the visiting time, always have a snack or light meal available for group members to eat as they converse with their fellow group members.
A great way to make sure there’s always a snack is to create a sign-up sheet for group members to bring a snack for the duration of the weekly meetings.
Some great ideas for snacks are biscuits and jelly, cheese and crackers, a couple large pizzas, bacon, pop corn, or fruit and vegetable platters.
Some ideas for small meals are buffalo wings, spaghetti and bread sticks, pizza, a bunch of finger foods, or hot pockets.
It’s not a bad thing to at least provide a bag of chips, too.
3. Provide a few things for the people to enjoy
A great way to include everyone in the conversation is to think of a team building activity to go through before talking about the deep stuff.
For example, the leader of my Tuesday night group asks us a question that we must all respond to. A question could be to ask each person what their high and low of the week was.
Additionally, it’s nice to have soft background music playing. It creates a filler just in case there is a lapse in conversation.
What about large groups of 30 plus people?
If your group meeting includes your entire church or a decent amount of people, have them break off into groups of ten to do various “get to know you” activities.
For providing food, just create a buffet with items like buffalo wings, salad, pasta, and dinner rolls. Dessert would be a nice touch as well.
If it’s a group this large, odds are that this kind of meeting does not happen often. If that’s the case, ask a few members of your church if they would prepare the food for guests.
For example, at my mom’s church, there are a group of ladies who always prepare meals before large gatherings.
If you do not have anyone to prepare the food, just order a massive amount of food from a restaurant or go to Sam’s Club or Costco to buy things in bulk.
Most importantly, grow closer together
All of the above things are not the reason for gathering, but they bring people together and make group members comfortable.
The hopeful thing is for these elements of the evening to help people feel comfortable and cause them to open up about deeper, more personal things that they would otherwise not share.
Once people have a chance to share personal things with others, it connects them and then may lead to great friendships.
Church community is built when people step out of their isolated comfort zone and trust other people with information. It is also built when church members are consistently meeting with each other.
It’s hard sometimes, but I would not have the friends I have now without first opening up to them.
To access another community setting, worship with us here at the Inbound Church <-Click!