What Does it Take to Start Connecting?
asking the right questions
To live a life of Impactivity, we need all kinds of relationships. We need people who know and understand our Dream and are working on a Dream of their own, so we can offer advice and keep each other accountable. We also need friends who know our personal lives and can support and encourage us along that journey.
### Are your relationships too casual?
You may or may not have a more professional-type of group that you are working alongside. But on the personal front, are your relationships too casual? How do we find people to go deeper with, to create real community? And what even makes a great community? Does it need to meet weekly? Be an official “group”?
True biblical community can look like many things, but there are a few principles that are universal. You are looking for people to not only hang out with, talk with, and laugh with. You are looking for people with whom you can also pray with, cry with, and talk about the real struggles of your life.
If you’d like to start forming those types of relationships around you, there are a few things you should think about before you even begin getting together. These ideas can apply whether you’re talking about two friends getting together regularly, about meeting with your spouse and another couple, or putting together a larger group.
Below are some questions to ask at the very start of deeper biblical community. Keep in mind the personalities of the group -- there may be some people who won’t feel comfortable enough yet to voice their opinions on these questions, or may need a bit of time to process their thoughts. Don’t let the most confident and vocal people take over and make these critical decisions at the start.
### Start with the people-questions
- Who should be part of this group? How do we make sure that everyone feels comfortable and safe with each other from the start? (If there’s tension between people, get it resolved before beginning.)
- What kind of commitment are we asking for? Come and go as you please? Steady attendance?
- What happens when someone new wants to join us? Are we open to anyone? To only certain people, or “approved” people? Open only up to a certain number? (You want to make sure you’re not perceived as exclusive and elitist, but there are practical considerations of size, based on meeting space. Also, the more people you have, the more challenging it becomes to let everyone feel heard and to go deeper.)
### Ask the values questions
What do we want or need from this group?
What would we love to see?
What kind of closeness and depth do we want with each other?
Will our time together be study-based, with discussion and teaching? Or more casual and social? How intentional do we want to be about having fun together?
Will we have one leader who leads the group, coordinates the logistics, facilitates the meetings, cares for the people? Or will there be some sort of shared leadership or rotation?
Regardless of whether we are studying or simply hanging out, what is the “depth” we are committing to? (e.g., we want to make sure we are rejoicing over each other, sharing our struggles and living life alongside each other, praying over each other.)
How will everyone feel that their gifts are being used in this group?
Will we be outward-focused, with a mission we do together, or inward-focused, mainly about supporting each other? Or both?
- What specific values do we hold? (e.g., everyone knows that what they share will be kept within the group, we want to hear from everyone, etc.)
### Decide on the practical considerations
Where will we meet?
How often will we meet?
Will we have an established end time?
If there will be food, who provides it? How fancy does it need to be?
Sometimes all it takes to go deeper is to bring that desire out in the open and simply talk about it. And when everyone talks together about these things, the more “buy in” people have, the more committed they become to the group, and the more they feel themselves part of it.
None of this has to be a “small group” the way the church defines it. Even with friends, you can commit together that you want to go deeper, so then you feel comfortable and safe when you get together to not only talk and laugh, but also ask each other: what’s happening with your friendships, your marriage, your kids, your work, your heart? Pray together.
### Once you’re off the ground
Remember that these are living relationships, and let them be varying and spontaneous, even if you’ve established a pattern.
Create an environment where people feel comfortable saying what they need. “We expect you to come to the group with what you need, and not think that everyone will be able to see it, or feel that we don’t want to hear it.”
Let people feel free to make requests of your time together. A person may feel like they really need a fun evening rather than your usual study. Someone may want to share something they’ve learned in a more “formal” way than your usual social time. Be responsive to the needs you see in others, but also make sure everyone feels comfortable talking about what they need.
Make sure to do something fun together occasionally, even if that’s not your normal routine. Shared fun, even to the point of silliness, goes a long way in bonding a group.
When you talk these things through (even if you feel they are already understood and don’t need to be said), you will find that the group immediately goes deeper. There is great power in simply having these conversations. People will share past hurts and what they desire, and you can form the community around those ideas.
Start to think about the people you can form into this type of community. If you’re already in a group, think about how you can begin to move them in this direction. (If you’re not the “leader” perhaps send a link to this article to him or her!)
You need people who share your whole life. Finding them is essential. Take a step today, right now, to find a few people who also see the need for true biblical community.
your best next step
go more in-depth with this topic
Get a jumpstart on creating deep community by working through a series of important questionsSee the Community Start-Up Guide
move forward on your adventure
Take yourself through a short process of identifying truth about how God has uniquely created you for a purpose, and figuring out what that purpose might be.See the Dream Circles Exercise