Our Dinner Groups are currently on a break until the second week of September, when they reset and relaunch. This allows us to give our leaders some rest and also accomplish our Dinner Group values of connecting the unconnected, helping people take their next step, and producing more leaders and groups. You can sign up for a Dinner Group starting on Saturday, August 26th at 6 p.m.
Creating community requires multiplication.
This can be hard.
The reality is, if you are in a Dinner Group, you found community because someone valued multiplication over connection. If your Dinner Group leader had held onto their original group, you never would have been able to connect. There wouldn’t have been a seat at the table for you. The reason there was is that someone was willing to leave the group they’d grown connected to and formed a new one, so others could experience community as well.
Jesus also valued multiplication over connection. It’s the reason you can be a part of God’s family.
“At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’” (Matt. 27:45-46)
God the Father and Jesus had never been separated until this moment. Jesus decided to endure that separation so you could be connected to God. To be like Jesus is to value multiplication over connection, so we can’t be like Jesus if we’re not willing to do the same.
Taking a break to reset our groups is one way to cultivate the community and connection God desires for us. When we apply the principle of multiplication to our Dinner Groups, we allow for new avenues of growth that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
Here are three reasons taking a break can be beneficial:
New People Connect Best in New Dinner Groups
Dinner Groups have been running at Hoboken Grace for over nine years. Along the way we’ve learned many important things about our Dinner Groups and our community. People connect best in one of two ways.
The first is when they are invited by someone. We all want to feel like we belong, and it’s comforting when we know at least one other person in a social setting. The second way people connect best is by joining a new Dinner Group that is just getting started. If we are going to walk into a situation where we don’t know anyone, it’s less scary when everyone else is also new.
In the fall of 2015, 90 people joined a Dinner Group for the first time. Of those 90 people, 60 joined one of our six new, 10-week Dinner Groups; the other 30 joined one of the 25 existing Dinner Groups.
It’s crucial for us as a church to be encouraging seasoned and growing members of a group to start their own Dinner Group. It’s our best opportunity to help people in our community who are not yet connected find a place where they feel like they belong, which is why this September we will launch several new groups.
To Expand Your Circles
Taking a break and launching new Dinner Groups gives you the opportunity to expand your circles by meeting new people. Groups exist to create community, but they are not the complete answer to this need. Biblical community is comprised of three different types of relationships.
The first is a “Paul” relationship – someone who is a mentor who can build into and encourage you. The second is a “Barnabus” relationship – a person who will be a companion and friend with you on this journey. The third is a “Timothy” relationship – someone you can build into, much like the “Paul” does in your life. (If you’d like to learn more about this, listen to our Circles series.)
To create a thriving community, you need to develop each of those types of relationships. You won’t necessarily find them all within your existing Dinner Group, but you are likely to find more people who fulfill these various roles with exposure to each new Dinner Group. Over time, the more Dinner Groups and Impact Teams you’re part of, the more you’ll expand your circles.
Pick the night of the week when you can be most consistent. It’s natural for our schedules to change, and what worked best last year isn’t always what will work best this year. The summer break allows everyone to review their schedule and choose the time that works best each week for Dinner Group.
Consistency is a vital part of any relationship. Shasta Nelson, author of Frientimacy, says this:
“A requirement of friendship is [that] we need it to feel safe, and how we can measure that is the consistency of our friendship. Consistency is what helps us start being able to predict somebody’s behavior and that’s what makes us feel safe. That’s what the trust is built on…
Over time as we’re repetitive and as we build history, that’s where safety starts coming from, where our brains can say, ‘Well, last time I shared good news with her, she celebrated me, so therefore I feel safe sharing good news with her. Last time I shared something hard, she didn’t judge me … and we start creating a history that allows us to feel safe with each other.’”
Whether it’s in an individual relationship or a group setting, each of us has to show up on a regular basis in order to build the strong bonds we all need to thrive.
Through this break, we pray it gives you the opportunity to rest, establish avenues for connection, and be ready to partner with us this fall as we work together toward the common goal of helping people find a place to belong.