If you’ve ever organized activities for a church small group, youth group, program or event, then you know how much effort it can take. There’s a lot of details to make sure are in place to accommodate a spectrum of needs, all the way down to making sure you won’t run out of toilet paper!
But there are a couple things you’d be wise to make sure of before you put your time, money, energy and attention into any church activities.
The first is to make sure that everyone who’s invited (including you) deeply cares for the purpose that’s bringing you together. If you don’t have that nailed down, pause on organizing the activity you have in mind and consider this first.
The second thing to consider is what you actually SHOULD be doing together. The nature of the activities you choose to do together is an essential factor when it comes to cultivating any type of community, including church.
The activities you do are critical
For a church to be truly healthy and authentic, there has to be a clear and specific purpose that brings the group together (and keeps the group together). That purpose is realized through activities you do together that either can’t be done alone, or are way better when done with others. Whatever those activities are, they are what forms the church around the shared purpose.
Therefore, the activities you choose to do together and how they’re executed are critical to the quality of the experience, the success of whatever the church is wanting to accomplish and the longevity of the church’s existence.
People must genuinely want to do them
What you’re going to do has to be directly linked to the purpose you’ve established for coming together.
So what should you do together? It depends on the purpose. But whatever you do, make sure the activities are things the people that are passionate about the purpose genuinely and emphatically want to do. It can’t be things they’re just willing to do.
What you do should be clearly accomplishing the purpose you’ve all agreed to for coming together. And it needs to be a better experience as a group than anyone could have individually.
They must be participatory
But not only does what you do together need to be purposeful. There are 2 other qualities your activities should have if you want to create an environment where authentic community can flourish.
First, what you do needs to be participatory. This means that everyone has the chance to contribute. No one contributes in every activity to the same degree or in the same way. But if the group of people you’re a part of truly has passion for the purpose, they’ll need to be involved in the activity.
If participation is a struggle in your group, you need to revisit if the people truly have a passion for the purpose. If not, it’s time to find a new (or clearer) purpose or find new people. As the book Get Together points out…
People are showing up to realize a shared purpose, not to watch you realize it for them.
They must be repeatable
Second, what you do needs to be repeatable. You need a core activity that the community can expect to happen and start building their life around. Having repeatable activities that feel like they’re accomplishing the purpose of the group is key to relationships forming and strengthening.
As this happens, a community gains momentum as people feel more comfortable with each other over time.
There must be feedback
After you start doing something together, it’s very important that you (and everyone else) look back in retrospect at what’s happened unbiasedly. You should always be looking at how to adjust or shift what you’re doing to make what you do together as undeniably valuable as possible.
Without this feedback, you’ll personally have a very limited view of the possibilities. Everyone else in the group will as well. It will hold the community back.
The way to make an authentic community last is to make sure people are excited to repeat your core activity over and over again. If they aren’t, the community is in trouble before you even know it.
You must be consistent
As you plan and execute what you’ll do together, remember that it takes consistency to build something authentic and long-lasting. Get Together goes on to say…
Big things often start small. Many widespread, thriving communities started with just a handful of participants. If you want to gain momentum, you’ll have to keep at it week after week.
So once you find the right people, make sure you’re doing the right activities; and doing them over and over again. This will help to make sure the community is being built appropriately on the shared purpose you’ve all agreed to and is the reason everyone is showing up in the first place.