We’re getting close to summer, which means you’ve probably been addressing a bunch of administrative questions about your group. Will we keep meeting during the summer months? Will we meet on a different schedule? Who will keep track of which members are on vacation? What can we do about increased childcare needs? Should we study something new or different?
These questions are important, and every group will answer them differently. But let me add another question you should be thinking about this time of year: How will our group have fun this summer?
Summer is a great time for fun in many areas of life, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about cranking up the fun factor in your group. In fact, I’d like to give you two strong reasons why you should make fun a strong priority in the coming months.
1. Fun Is Fun!
As group leaders, we often feel the pressure of spiritual expectations within our groups. We know the ultimate goal of a small group is spiritual growth and transformation; therefore, we often fall into the trap of under-valuing elements of our group experience that don’t feel spiritual.
Taken to an extreme, we can assign negative values to anything that doesn’t feel somber or serious. We can feel like “heavy” activities are good, while “light” activities are bad.
In reality, the presence of fun has a positive impact on Christian community. Why? Because fun is fun! People like to have fun. People want to have fun. More importantly, people were created to have fun. God designed us with an innate desire to seek out pleasure and joy; we’re wired that way. Remember, Jesus went to parties, made friends, ate good food – and was criticized by the grumpy Pharisees for not being “spiritual” enough (see Luke 7:33-35).
In short, the presence of fun adds an attractional element to your group.
2. Fun Is Relational
There’s no doubt relationships are an important element of any group experience – that’s what makes it a group! And that’s also why most group experiences need to include a regular element of fun. Because few things help deepen relationships more than shared enjoyment around common experiences.
Don’t get me wrong: the serious and somber elements of group life are important. But people rarely feel comfortable engaging in those “spiritual” elements with people they hardly know. Deeper relationships are a key step on the journey toward deeper spiritual growth within your community.
And one of the best ways to deepen the relationships within your group is to have fun together.
So make that a priority this summer! Get together with no agenda – only some food, drinks, and maybe a few games. Enjoy the weather at a park together, or go see a movie. Let your group members tell you what they enjoy doing, and then gather everyone to enjoy those activities together.
You’ll be glad you did.
Sam O’Neal is a Content Editor on the Adult Ministry Publishing team at Lifeway. Sam is author of The Field Guide for Small Group Leaders and the Bible content writer for About.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SamTONeal.