You just walked into a stranger’s house. They’re like, “Hi! Welcome! This is my house! Oh, listen. If you’re going to sit in that chair, just try to keep your weight to the left so it won’t collapse again. It happens all the time. Oh, and our toilet will only flush if you jiggle the handle four times. Just a few FYIs. Ok, let’s dive in! Open your Bible and let’s confess some sin!”
Now imagine that same scenario but with chocolate chip cookies.
Of course. People have been fellowshipping over food for forever. The purpose of a small group isn’t just to snack and chat, but having food while your group meets absolutely helps set a better vibe for healthy discipleship time.
Snacking people are happier people. So, if you are thinking about having a snack time during small group (you should decide that), here are three snack laws to follow:
1. Always Have a Snack
It’s easier to chat over chips and cheese. It just is. I’ve been in many groups with many snacks and many groups without. People are more comfortable when there is something to eat. Snacks lighten the initial burden of conversation. Snacks give you something natural to do with your hands. How long have I had my hands in my pockets? Should I fold my arms? Did I just double-snap-point at the new guy? DID I JUST DOUBLE-SNAP-POINT AT THE NEW GUY!?
Also, it’s easier to focus on what matters most when you’re not distracted by hunger. Let’s be honest, 90% of your people aren’t going to remember to pre-pack a pre-small group snack before they leave for work at 6 a.m. You can remove that obstacle by having food available when you meet. Meet that need, and make it easier to meet the deeper needs of community, confession, repentance, and spiritual growth.
2. Know When to Stop Eating
If you plan on regular feasting time with your people, know when your food time ends and your study time begins. Otherwise, snacking will go on and on until the Lord returns and the discipleship discussion will get bumped. You might drive home that night with some great new DIY projects involving mason jars and twine, but you won’t go home having grown as a disciple.
Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” If people are gathering for small group time, they are hungry for righteousness. Be intentional about leading your group away from the snack bar and into a time to focus on what matters most.
You can make it as simple as setting a timer on your phone. Eat your snickerdoodles and catch up on the week for a little while, but set a time to move on to study God’s Word.
3. Share the Snack Burden
Sure, snacks make people happy, but nobody wants to be in charge of providing pizza rolls forever. Being the sole food provider for a group of friends and strangers who are hungry and tired and just got off work can become burdensome.
Be intentional about sharing the snack burden.
There are a few easy ways to do this. You can send out a sign-up sheet every month and have families pick a day to bring the snacks. Or, if your group membership roster is pretty consistent, you can simply develop a rotation. First it’s Mattie, then it’s Bill, then it’s Scarlet, then it’s Maria, etc. Share the snack work.
Scarlet Hiltibidal is a writer living in Nashville, TN. Scarlet has a degree in biblical counseling and worked as a Christian schoolteacher before she started writing. She has written for and managed several online publications. Currently, she does freelance writing for various Christian publishers and produces small group curriculum for children. Scarlet is wife to Brandon, who is part of the Groups Ministry Team at Lifeway, and Mommy to her daughters, Ever Grace, Brooklyn Hope, and Sawyer Joy. Visit her blog at scarlethiltibidal.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @ScarletEH.