Many times we understand the concepts or ideas of building community within a Sunday School or small group. I find some small group leaders who appear to believe that community “just happens.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Biblical community must be intentional. Today I want to offer seven practical actions that a leader can do to influence his or her group to grow together in community.
Yes – use nametags! Sometimes it is the simplest of things that can have the greatest impact. The fact is that it is unlikely that you are going to get close to someone if you do not know each others names.
Make Phone Calls
A phone call is often one of the best ways for you to discover ministry needs in your group. Plus, you can call someone for any reason. Consider the following ideas about making a phone call:
- When someone misses a group meeting. They may have been absent because they were out of town, or it could be something more serious. But you will never know if you do not make a call;
- To enlist them to help for the next group meeting. You may call them to ask them to share their testimony, or bring some food to the next group gathering;
- Ask them to help with ministry. Could they help out another group member that lives near them that is in need of some ministry;
- Follow up on a prayer request they shared with the group. Making a follow-up call communiciates genuine concern;
- Always call someone who has visited your group. Preferably within 48 hours. Someone has put forth the effort to join your group for an hour or two. If they never hear from you or someone in your group, then they probably think that your group is not a place where they are going to belong. On the other hand, a phone call from the group a day or two after they visit communicates volumes about the openness of the group.
Some parts of the country call these “socials”, but whatever you call it your group needs to get together and have fun. I recommend one fellowship a month, but definitely no fewer than four per year. If your group meets in a home during the week, take advantage by eating dinner together.
Minister to Each Other
When you discover someone in your group is in need of ministry – get proactive! Rally the team and respond appropriately. Simple actions like taking a casserole to a family or stopping by the hospital for a visit says a lot about your group and builds community. People remember who was – and wasn’t – there during a crisis.
Do a mission project together as a group. Enlist people in the group to lead the project, select a date to launch the mission effort, and then do it. Groups that join together around a common mission build community as a by-product of their work.
I shared something with a small group over the weekend. Spontaneously, three men stepped up, put their hands on my shoulders and prayed for me. Those aren’t just three guys anymore – they are brothers.
I use an app on my smart phone called “Group Text”. It’s cheap (about $2.99) and it lets me text everyone in my group at the same time. Plus, if someone texts me back, their return text only comes to my phone. No one else sees what everyone else may send back to me. Most people read text messages as soon as they are received, so a message you send to your group is probably going to be seen by everyone. Use other social media like Twitter or Facebook.
As you process this, what are some specific actions that you and your group can take to build community.