Recently at the Suncoast we have done away with our community/small groups, at least for a season. If our goal is to create relational environments for people to connect then for us groups were only connecting a small number of people. So here are two things we are doing... again at least for now:
Next is a medium sized gathering at our Warehouse (church office and gathering spot) for people who want to get to know some other people from the Suncoast and get to know God better. The format will have plenty of time for people just to hang out and snack, then I will interactively teach on a spiritual growth topic for about 20 minutes, and finally we will have people "huddle up" in groups of 15 or so for some quick questions and prayer. We will also be encouraging people to sign up for a once a month service deal in the community to reach out and also to connect people once again. Our goal for NEXT is not to force people into relationships but simply create the environment for them to happen naturally.
Another thing we just did was buy some fold up cafe tables (think bar height) and put them around the coffee and donuts. There are not any chairs with them so it is just a place we hope people will stand and use as a safe place to have a conversation. There is something about having a table and a cup of coffee in between you that creates a safe zone to talk to "strangers". We will see.
The bottom line is we are stepping back and just trying to create relational environments instead of forcing people into relationships. We don't want to force people into a "one size fits all" mold as the only way to connect here. I will keep you posted on how it goes.
The first NEXT is Sunday night, 7pm @ the Warehouse!