My small group eats a meal together every week.
We gather at 6:00pm for food, over which we do our icebreaker and catch up with each other. Then we move to the family room where pray for our friends that need God, study the Bible, worship and pray together, ending about 8:00pm. (We end that early primarily because some people in the group have small kids.)
There are two key reasons we enjoy a meal together every week. Reason 1 is theological. It goes like this: Jesus ate with people all the time (Luke 15:2), the early believers frequently ate in home with one another (Acts 2:46), and everyone loves to eat, so let’s do this.
Reason 2 is the real reason. When we started the group over a year ago, my wife said, “I think we should do a meal together every week.” She’s really smart and has great ideas. So that’s what we do. She was right. In our busy, fragmented, 21st century culture, meals are a super way to build community. We are going to keep doing this.
Here are four steps to doing great small group meals, whether you do them weekly, monthly, or whenever.
1. **Plan.** One or two people need to come up with a simple plan. It helps if you designate a meal coordinator. Our group rotates between a few simple meals: tacos, spaghetti, potato bar, sandwiches, and soup. Someone gets the key ingredient ready and then other people bring things that go with it. For example, when we do tacos, the host gets the meat ready and other people sign up for other components (taco shells, salsa, shredded cheese, lettuce, a dessert, etc.). It’s simple and effective because everyone just brings one or two things, yet they get the full meal when they gather. Other possible plans are doing something like ordering pizza or Chinese and splitting the bill, or calling for an old fashioned potluck or cookout.
2. **Communicate.** Once you have a plan, you communicate it. Three ways to do this are group email, a Facebook group, or your church software’s need request feature. You’ll need to figure out what works best for your group. No one method will work for everyone in your group, but if you have something that works for most people, it’s sufficient. It’s okay if two or three people are out of the communication loop or choose to ignore it. Things work out fine if a few people just wing it, always showing up with chips or chocolate chip cookies.
3. **Eat.** The fun part is enjoying the food when you gather. Typically a couple people arrive late. No problem, go ahead and start on time anyway. Your group members can eat those people’s side or dessert after they arrive.
4. **Share.** When small group is over, divide up the goodies. The person that brought apple pie can send pieces home with those that love it. Famishing young adults might want to take a serving of the main course to devour tomorrow. You personally might grab a couple of cookies to put in your lunch bag later in the week. You get the idea.
That’s it! Remember, eating together is Biblical and my wife says it’s a great idea. So you should definitely do it regularly!
CC Image • Courtesy of Noonch on Flickr
Jim, I find it inspiring that you eat a meal with your group every single week. Thanks for sharing how you make the magic happen.
I'm guessing here, but did it seem like a lot of work at first, but now, over time, it feels normal and routine (as far as the prep details)?
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