Perhaps your Bible study group is in need of a new way to help your group members build relationships. Summer is here, and maybe your people have scattered. But the August will be here before you know it, and that means back-to-school, the end of summer vacations, and more regular attendance in your Bible study group. Tables of 8 may be just the thing your group needs to deepen relationships. Here are 6 reasons why Tables of 8 might be a good idea for your group:
1. Tables of 8 is simple. 4 couples, or a mix of couples and singles, commit to meet together once a month for dinner. One couple selects the site of the first dinner. After that, couples or individuals take turns deciding where the group will meet. In all, the group will have dinner together 4 times, once a month.
2. Tables of 8 is cost-effective. Tables of 8 requires no financial commitment on the part of the church. Group members pay for their own meals (if the group goes to a restaurant); some groups choose to meet in homes, and the host couple supplies the meal. Sometimes the 4 couples agree to chip in a few dollars to defray the cost of an in-home meal. Couples arrange their own childcare so the adults can focus on building relationships without having children playing at their feet.
3. Tables of 8 is repeatable. After a four-month rotation, the Tables of 8 groups can be reshuffled, and new relationships can be forged as couples are paired up with different couples than the ones from their first group. It’s a great way to make sure that the members of your group are constantly being placed in a situation where they can get to know each other outside of the group’s Bible study meeting.
4. Tables of 8 is voluntary. No one has to participate in a Tables of 8 rotation. Ask the members of your Bible study group to voluntarily sign up. Let them do this for a few weeks, and after everyone has had a chance to get on board, arrange the people into groups of 8. If less social people choose not to participate, that’s fine. Don’t force fun or fellowship – it will happen naturally.
5. Tables of 8 can be done seasonally. An early Fall and an early Spring (or late Winter) Tables of 8 rotation can provide a short burst of fellowship fun. Feel free to skip summer months when people tend to be more sporadic in their attendance. Back-to-school time and first-of-the-year Tables of 8 groups tend to do very well.
6. Tables of 8 can include guests and associate group members. As you form Tables of 8, be sure to include two special groups of people: guests and associate members. Guests can get to know your group members before they join your group. Associate members need contact with your group members since they have volunteered to leave it to teach a preschool, kids, or student Bible study group; Tables of 8 will keep them connected to adults who can encourage them in their service to the Lord.
What can you expect if you launch a Tables of 8 ministry? You’ll see people deepen their relationships. You’ll see them do more than just eat together – most groups play games or watch a movie, too. And you’ll probably see new people get connected to groups quicker than if you didn’t offer Tables of 8.