For me it starts with a small group (and yes you have to go to one for it to count). I know Jim is afraid they might be a coerced-church thing and I so totally can see that concern, but it really shouldn’t be (and if it still is, maybe the small group just isn’t appropriate for you… not sure what would be though).
Lately though I find we don’t have enough time to really get to know people well even in the weekly small group get-togethers… So the next step of fellowship in my mind is when we do things together. Like what?
- Another guy and I were asked to facilitate a get-together and we hung out, read and talked over the material, and just talked for 3 hours. That was great.
- Going down to serve the homeless with another gal in the group has provided plenty of individual time to really get to know her.
- I didn’t get to do it, but helped plan our group’s dinner service with a respite program (also for the homeless).
- Helping someone with a specific need (e.g. outdoor house work)
- Staying a little bit after (or before if that’s kosher) the group get-together to talk
- game nights (we did this recently)
- dinners/cookouts (not church-wide – just the group; dedicated for hanging out only; better on a Saturday or Sunday during the day and outside with our entire families including kids) – we haven’t had this happen in our current small group but have in prior groups; one group we had one get-together a month dedicated to just fellowship – a dinner night with entire families (I got to say though that this was hard for us due to the timing – and getting our kids to sleep by a certain time… but I’m still optimistic that this can be worked through).
I do think that church-wide affairs (like our upcoming all-church “pitch-in” meal March 19th) can really serve for a lot of people as a great way to fellowship with everyone else. Especially with those that:
- aren’t in your small group (which obviously is a lot of people)
- don’t dig the whole small group concept
I do know however, that we’ve struggled with this because our kids (and I’m quite sure we’re the only ones with this issue) are a bit rambunctious – which we are still under this crazy impression we need to somehow control… and because of this, we get to spend less time talking with people and more time corralling kids. Irregardless, the last one our church did I had a blast since it was a pool party – and I know I really felt some people really reaching out to me and trying to get to know more than they had – which was just awesome.