My father passed away over a decade ago, and I recently opened one of the boxes he left behind to find a box-inside-a-box. My father had placed a shoebox inside the larger box for safe keeping. I was understandably curious about the contents of the shoebox, so I took a look at the contents before browsing through the other items in the larger box.
The shoebox turned out to be a wonderful treasure! Inside this small box were a variety of items that brought lots of memories back to me.
My father had kept birthday cards I’d given him over the years, some from my days in elementary school! There were two or three hand-written notes I’d given him before I became a teenager…you know, the kind you write as a child to say thanks for the gifts he’d given me and for just being my dad.
Then there were my old report cards he’d collected – and no, I didn’t remember that my grades were as low as some of them were. As I looked at my English grades on the report cards, I suddenly remembered my high school teacher Ms. Nason, a teacher who allowed a friend and I to skip class in order to see the opening of Star Wars Episode 4: The Empire Strikes Back. There were even some old photos of my first car, a 1978 Camaro. Man, do I miss that car!
Shoeboxes and Bible study groups
A Bible study group that has a “shoebox” is a group that has a collection of memories that are shared among the group members. My current group banded together just over a year ago, and we are in the process of building memories as we study together, serve one another, and fellowship regularly. We’re building memories together, and memories can act like glue – they can be the catalyst that makes the group “sticky” so that people feel they belong. Having a history you share together is important.
3 ways to develop a “shoebox” for your Bible study group
1. Reminisce stories from the past. The newer members want to be a part of the history of the group. Saying things like, “Remember last month when we went out to eat together…” or “Remember how cold it was serving snowcones at the Fall Festival? We should ask for the cotton candy booth next year!” These quick trips down memory lane can help group members feel a sense of history, belonging, and inclusion…they feel part of the group.
2. Regularly do things together as a group. If you’re going to build memories, you must do things together outside the regular meeting time of the group. Mission trips and service projects, Bible studies in homes, meals eaten together, day trips, ministering to people together, and other things are necessary to build memories that are shared. If all of your group’s memories are about what takes place in the Bible study time, it’s a signal that you need to create some new memories beyond the group’s Bible study time.
3. Record your activities. As your group engages in activities outside your normal Bible study time, be sure to take pictures and perhaps record some of the moments on video. Smart phones have cameras and video recorders, so you’ve probably got the right tool in your pocket. If you don’t someone in the group will. Record and share those memories often, reminding your group members they are part of a family of believers who love and care for one another.