Since my appointment to talk about adult Bible fellowships with Steve Lizzio earlier this year, my mind has frequently gone back to our conversation about community. God cares about community. He is community: God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the son and Savior Jesus Christ. He calls each us into community with Him. And He calls us into community with the body of Christ.
I believe revolutionary groups grow best in His likeness and numerically when real community is experienced. I recently read a thought-provoking blog entry by a blogger named MyLabRuby. His blog is called First Day Thoughts, and the blog entry is entitled Twelve Ways to Create Community in Your Group. The original source for the Twelve Ways to Create Community in Your Group was Josh Hunt (I am grateful Josh left a comment below with that information since MyLabRuby did not do so. Thanks, Josh!). The first half of Josh's twelve ways are in all CAPITALS, and my thoughts follow.
Here are the ways he suggests to create community in your group:
1. VISION CAST. Vision captivates. Vision mobilizes. Vision brings people together. It motivates. When a group leader or pastor casts vision, they help the people focus, think, and work in the same direction. Time spent sharing vision, understanding vision, and pursuing vision is time spent getting to know one another more deeply.
2. ARRANGE THE CHAIRS. Circles and semi-circles encourage communication. Because much of communication is nonverbal, greater understanding is possible when faces can be seen. Rows make seeing all the faces difficult. Encourage community by arranging your chairs so everyone can see everyone!
3. ASK GOOD QUESTIONS. Questions are great tools for getting everyone involved. The best questions seek more than one-word answers. They seek to cause thought. They bring about dialogue and interaction. Connections are realized. Community is begun and deepened.
4. BEGIN WITH A GET-TO-KNOW-YOU TIME. Icebreakers can be planned to connect to the passage and study du jour. Sharing personal tidbits and thoughts can lead to affinity discovery even after a group has been together for months or even years. The more common experiences individuals realize they have with each other, the more community is created. (Great suggestions are offered in the blog entry mentioned above.)
5. END WITH PRAYER REQUESTS. When people pray together, bonds are created. End with prayer concerns and prayer time to limit the time they take. Divide into pairs or small groups to pray together. Write prayer requests on the board. Share prayer requests that have been answered. Encouraged prayer to continue between sessions. Prayer unites and deepens relationships with God and each other.
6. BE VULNERABLE. Community is much more difficult (perhaps impossible) when there is no vulnerability. Be honest. Be open. Be transparent. This happens best when the group leader is an example. Admit your concerns, worries, problems, hurts, and needs. Ask for help. Accept help when it is offered. In that kind of environment, community grows that leads to deepening discipleship and desire for others to share the experience.
Come together or else you'll come apart! Invest in community. Vision cast. Arrange the chairs. Ask good questions. Begin with an icebreaker. End with prayer requests. Be vulnerable. Implement one of these ways to create community with your group this week. Be revolutionary!