Tips for Sharing Life

Josh Hunt sends out a weekly email with ideas about discipleship, church, and other issues. This week, he had some ideas for building community. Here is a modified version of his list:

1. Begin with a Get-to-know-you time

Here are a couple ideas.

  • Start with a get-to-know-you question. Here is an example. "Let's start today with everyone introducing themselves and what is your favorite kind of dessert." By opening the door of each person's life each week, you help to get to know each other, little by little. If I can, I try to relate this question to the topic of the day. If I can't think of a way, I still ask the question. Over time, people will learn a lot about each other; where they work, their favorite this, favorite that, birth order, kids, hobbies, and so forth.
  • Have one person give a five-minute overview of their life: where they were born, where they have lived, marriage, kids, and key points spiritually.
  • Allow the group to all ask one question of one person in the group.

2. End with prayer requests. (or begin with them if you are always running out of time)

3. Be vulnerable

If you want people to open up and be honest, you have to open up and be honest. They will not do what you do not do, no matter how much you talk about it.

Of course, like many things in life, balance is of the essence. There is such a thing as sharing too much with too many. Most groups, however, err on the side of being too formal and stuffy. Tell us what is happening, really.

4. Party

Have people into your home. Go out to lunch with them. Go eat after church. Enjoy sporting events together.

5. Mission projects.

It is not enough to learn together and play together, and talk together. Do things together. Go on mission trips together. Work together. Build together. Travel together. Look for ways to accomplish things for God together. Help each other move. Shared common experiences build community.

6. Open your home

It is hard to imagine having a friend that I had not been in his home and he had not been in mine. There is something about sharing life together in each other's homes that builds community.

7. Tell your story

We don't just have one story. We have dozens. Tell yours. All of yours:

* Having kids story.
* Spiritual highlights story.
* Spiritual struggles story.
* Career story.
* Geographical story.
* How you learned to be consistent in your quiet time story.
* How you discovered your spiritual gifts story.

8. Be there for each other

In every life the rains will come. Sooner or later they will come to the people in your group. When the rains come, hold an umbrella for a friend.

Or course, it is not the rains that are the problem. It is the storms--the really bad storms. Eventually, the really bad storms--the train wrecks will come to everyone. When they do, be there for each other. Do all you can, but mostly be there.

Be at the hospital. Be at the funeral home. Be there. Take the time. Take the trip. Pay the price. Be there.

If money is the need, take up an offering. Share the burdens of life together. Watch the kids. Clean the house. Fix the meals. Do what you can. Be there.

9. Eat

There is something about eating together. Eat often. Eat a lot. Studies prove that the more unhealthy the food, the better the community. (I just made that up.)

Life is a better life when it is lived together.