People bond over projects. Doing something with our hands loosens our mouths to talk about things we wouldn't say to someone who was looking us in the eye. Some people do it while working on cars. Some people do it while washing dishes. Even going for a walk side-by-side makes talking about our deep places a lot easier than a face-to-face conversation with no buffer of activity.
Creating a group that meets around a certain activity can bring down walls and give people a definite sense of commitment. Here are some practical ideas:
- Start a "build-a-deck" Bible study that comes together to build a deck on someone's house. Work together, get to know each other, and finish with cold sodas and a look into God's Word. When the deck is done, have a barbeque and decide as a group if you want to continue to meet.
- Run a cooking class in your home or the church kitchen. Assign everyone one night to teach a new recipe and bring supplies for each member. Pray together and enjoy a decision-based study as you share a meal. As a bonus, make an extra dish and deliver it to someone you'd like to invite to join the class.
- Walk and talk with your group at a local park before having prayer time around the picnic tables. This'll get your hearts in shape in more ways than one.
- Begin a dance team that has permission to perform at a holiday service. Gather kids or adults to pick music, plan choreography, and work on routines, then bookend your time together with prayer and Scripture.
- Create a quilt and an opportunity for people to draw close to God and to each other. When it's done, raffle it off and donate the money or use it to take the group out for a nice dinner.
People will be more likely to join an activity they already enjoy than a new group of people they don't yet know. Also, if the project and the group have an endpoint, this should give them even less hesitation to commit. If you give people a way to build relationships through shared activities and an incremental method of staying involved, you'll have eliminated two major stumbling blocks to starting a thriving small group.