By Kathryn Featherstone
The woman who leads the kitchen and hospitality ministry at our church recently made a comment that captures the heart of growing community: “For anyone who is new or wants to get involved, I’d like to invite you to serve in the kitchen. It’s a really great way to get involved and get to know people as you work side by side. I really want to get to know you!”
We all long to belong somewhere. To feel like we fit in. To feel like we’re part of something alongside people we know and who know us.
I love how this woman’s comment reflected this reality. We know there’s endless work to do in the kitchen, and more hands are always needed. But rather than emphasizing this, the kitchen coordinator expressed her heart for people in saying that her main desire is to get to know them! When she says it that way, it makes you want to volunteer.
It’s important to note that her comment wasn’t only words. When she interacts with people, her interest in them authentically shines through. The important point here is that doing isn’t our primary goal. Instead, it is being with and loving people - which is what builds true community!
How can we take steps to grow in community? We can do practical things to create space in our churches for people to interact with each other and get to know each other. Like:
- Arrive a few minutes early and stay late. This creates time for talking and being available to meet new people.
- Create the environment. Make the foyer, entry, or other community space comfortable and welcoming so people are drawn to linger and talk. Consider comfortable seating, attractive décor, and serving quality coffee and creamer options.
- Follow up on your words with action. When we say we’ll meet with someone, we meet with them. Or sit by them, or have them over for dinner. If we can’t follow through, let’s be careful not to offer the promise just yet!
- Encourage churchwide devotional readings and start a sermon series. Invite your worshipers to experience community as they share a devotional experience together. Then, follow up with sermons that emphasize the value of community and provide practical ideas for living it out. CTA published the Created for Community resources for this exact purpose!
- Build in relational time. While good studies and solid biblical knowledge are an important part of Christian growth, we need space for getting to know each other. In Sunday school or Bible studies, be sure leaders allow time for people to talk or that they lead with good “get to know each other” questions.
- Encourage people to be part of some kind of group. Time together in groups outside of Sunday morning is where relationships grow! This could be a midweek Bible study, a service-oriented group, or small groups that meet in homes for dinner and fellowship.
While plans and programs are helpful tools to accomplish our goals, be mindful that a plan for growing community won’t produce fruit if it isn’t authentically reflected by who we are. Let’s model being the kind of people who notice others with interest and care, and then encourage our volunteers and church attendees to do the same!
Do you have other ideas that aren’t on this list? If so, please share below so we can all benefit!
How would you like to help your area of ministry or whole congregation grow in community? What steps could you take in the coming months?
Kathryn Featherstone is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and a board-certified Christian Life Coach. Get to know her more at livealifeoflove.org.
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