Relationships at a distance tend to be distant. That is why many worship relationships are weak. Though a bit closer and more impacting, the same can be true for Sunday School class relationships that only spend time together during the lesson. Deepening relationships benefit from proximity and spending time together. Work to expand relationships.
There are many ways to expand relationships beyond class sessions. Here are a four basic but important “events” that can help:
- Meals. Everyone has to eat. These can be meals together as an entire group or one-on-one. They can be in homes, in restaurants, or at church. Meals tend be relaxing and to enable conversational discovery. They can be especially helpful for connecting with prospects or reconnecting with absentees.
- Fellowships. These are fun, social activities. They can include games, hayrides, sightseeing, and more. Fellowships may or may not be paired with meals. Laughing together and telling stories about the fun often deepen the relationships.
- Projects. These events include working together. They can include quilting for needy families, constructing a wheelchair ramp, mission trips, serving meals to the homeless, etc. Serving together and sharing stories about helping others often deepen the connections. Projects may also include meals.
- Prayer. Sharing prayer requests and praying together seems to bond a pair or small group. Sharing personal concerns and seeing God answer prayers frequently lead to bonding of friendships.
Circle of Friends
The class I attend at Parkland Baptist Church in Louisville is called the Circle of Friends. Before COVID, our class ended class sessions by standing in a circle holding hands to close in prayer. But that circle of friendships has been strengthened in many ways over the last few months: meal at the teacher’s house, bonfire at a member’s farm, serving together during a church Harvest Fest event, and more.
These relationship-building events have enabled group members and new group members to get to know each other better, to invite absentees so they could reconnect, and to invite guests. They have been fun, and the result has been growing participation on Sunday mornings (both in numbers and in lesson participation). While events require planning and work, they are worth every effort!
The Months Ahead
Look at the next 3-4 months. What opportunities lie ahead to gather your group members to deepen relationships, recover absentees, and to connect with prospects? If you are nearing year-end, what about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years meals, fellowships, projects, and prayer times? If you are nearing Spring or Summer, what about patriotic events, picnics, mission trips, and other events?
Don’t plan events solo. Gather a team to brainstorm and plan. Even the event planning can lead to deepening relationships! Expand relationships. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!