Sunday School fellowship activities accomplish many things. First, they are relationship-building times. Members and guests interact. They talk. They share about themselves in spontaneous and occasionally planned ways. They discover affinities--things they have in common with each other. Second, fellowship activities can also be outreach and ministry-oriented. They can allow the group to reach out to the community and meet the needs of individuals or a group. Third, they can just be plain fun! It is important to laugh together. It is valuable just to enjoy each other's company. I like what Leslie Maddox says in a blog post entitled Plan Social Activities: "Fun activities are a great uniter and a way to get to know a side of a person that they may not show all the time."
But fellowships don't just plan themselves. Someone has to give leadership. This is often the work side to fellowships that leads some classes to move toward fewer and fewer fellowships. In the same blog post mentioned above, Maddox answers the question about who plans fellowship with this response, "In a perfect world, every class would have a social committee that plans fun times for all. Realistically, this responsibility may bounce from person to person." I have seen a list passed around the class with attenders signing up for a month. Then the teacher or other class leader only needs to check with the person for that month to see what has been planned, when, and where. I agree with Maddox, though, that the ideal would be a person or group that helps the class plan these fun times.
Planning regular fellowship activities is important. What frequency is best? It depends on the group, but usually it should not be less than once per month. Why? Allow me to let Josh Hunt answer, "Invite every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month." Did you see it? In order to give our guests and prospects an opportunity to interact with the class in a different way from Sunday morning, fellowships need to be planned monthly. Otherwise our guests and prospects have to wait too long for us to capitalize upon their openness and interest.
In addition to listing several different fellowship activities in her blog post, Maddox also closed her blog post with some helpful planning suggestions. Her suggestions are in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- DECIDE UP FRONT IF THIS WILL BE AN ACTIVITY WITH OR WITHOUT CHILDREN. This is important unless the class is designed for people without children. If the group has children, you may want some activities with children and some without. You may want to arrange for children during some activities so the children can have fun at the same time but separately from the adults.
- BEWARE OF COMPETITIVE ATTITUDES. Fellowship activities should develop relationships and be fun. In the words of Maddox, "Any event that involves competition is an opportunity to see someone's ugly side." This is bad enough among members, but this should be definitely be avoided with guests present. If you know a member has this tendency, you can coach him/her in advance to avoid a negative experience but how do you coach guests? She doesn't say to avoid competitive activities--just to beware competitive attitudes.
- DO SOCIAL ACTIVITIES WITH OTHER CLASSES. Wow, what a great suggestion! Want to plan half as many activities for the year ahead? Plan your fellowships with another class who will plan half while your class plans half. Interacting with each other can be fun. Variety of ideas is added when even more are involved in planning. Some larger activities are possible that smaller class es may not be able to do on their own.
- LEARN WHAT THE CLASS LIKES TO DO. Input and ownership are helpful in increasing involvement in fellowship activities. Ask the class. Give them a survey. Find out what they like and don't like. Make sure you learn from trial and error as well. But remember that just because something did or didn't work one time is not a sure-fire way to know whether it will work the second time. It may be the class has changed in the intervening time.
For more ideas about fellowships, check out these blog posts: Sunday School Fellowship: More Than Food and Fun, Reach and Assimilate People into the Kingdom Through Sunday School Fellowships, Ten Values of Monthly Sunday School Fellowships, Sunday School Class Lunch, Sunday School Outreach: Giving Sunday Night to Jesus, and Ideas for Making Friends Through the Adult Sunday School Class. Want to leave an idea that has worked for your class? Press the comments button below. Regular fellowships are an essential part of revolutionary classes. Get input. Seek involvement in planning. Invite guests and prospects. Make them great. Be revolutionary!