Parties are powerful when used the right way. They are opportunities to help group members and guests make connections with each other. Parties often serve as the social glue that holds groups together. As I watched Bible study groups in the two churches where I had responsibility for the total groups ministry, the most popular and the fastest-growing groups were the ones that had regular parties and social gatherings. Let’s face it: people like to have fun!
If your group doesn’t have a regular fellowship each month or each quarter, here are some things to think about as you consider ramping up the frequency of your parties.
3 Reasons Why Your Group Needs to Party More
- Parties allow you to “connect the unconnected.” Bible study groups often forget about using parties as a tool to connect new people to the group. Savvy groups invite non-members to their get-togethers, and people actually become part of the group before they officially become part of the group. People begin to connect emotionally and relationally to a Bible study group before they ever attend a single Bible study. Make it a habit to invite prospects to every party, fellowship, and gathering. Parties aren’t just for the regular attenders…they are for the “not yet members,” too.
- Parties allow you to reach out to chronic absentees. You know that awkward feeling you get when your are about to send an email or call a chronic absentee, right? You ask yourself, “Will they respond negatively because I haven’t reached out to them sooner? Why didn’t I call them when they were absent the first time or two?” It’s a lot less awkward to reach out to a chronic absentee with an invitation to the group’s next fellowship. “Hey, John, just wanted you to know we’d love to have you and Jennifer come to our cookout this Saturday afternoon,” or “Just wanted to know if we can save you a spot at our bowling night?” Those phrases are much easier to say than, “Hey, we’ve noticed you’ve been absent from the group for a month…are you guys getting a divorce? Is everything OK?” Use a party as a reason to contact your chronic absentees.
- Parties help your group members connect on new and different levels. When your group gets together for a party, you get to know people in ways you just can’t in a classroom or a living room. People tend to “let their hair down,” and you see a side of people you never see during your group’s Bible study. That person you had pegged as a stoic might actually turn out to be a live wire outside the group’s Bible study. You can learn a lot about people outside the group’s normal meeting time.
If your group isn’t in the habit of having regular parties, get some on the calendar! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Go bowling
- Attend a play
- See a movie
- Have a picnic in the park
- Take a short road trip
- Visit a museum
- Have a cookout
- Start a supper club that meets weekly or monthly
- Have a progressive dinner in homes of group members
- Take a short road trip or a day trip
- Visit a museum
- Go to a ballgame
- Visit a local festival (I’ve actually been to the Moon Pie Festival, a Banana Pudding Festival, and a Fainting Goat Festival)…and they were all fun and gave us excuses to share part of our Saturday
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Ken – This is a great reminder that setting an environment where relationships can build is important to the growth of group members. I have an activities leader in my small group who helps ensure we party on a regular basis.
Thanks, Roger! And you’re right…relationships are so crucial in a small group study…wished more people understood that and calendared fun!
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