Through the years at Watermark, our Community Team has heard some excellent ideas from our community groups to help them grow and we wanted to pass them along to you.
If the goal of our community groups is to connect people in authentic relationships that lead to spiritual transformation (by living out our Six Community Core Values), then it will require focused intentionality to live-out these values in our groups.
Just like a master craftsman who creates with great precision and attention, building deep and authentic community takes time, patience, and intentionality. And with God’s help, just like the craftsman, community groups can become a beautiful display of workmanship that displays glory to the Maker! (Ephesians 2:10)
Here is our Top 10 Ideas to Help Strengthen Your Community Group!
- Road Trips & Retreats! Nothing bonds groups like creating unique shared experiences and making memories. Being purposeful to retreat together is an excellent way to help accomplish those things. When you escape the city, life tends to slow down from all of the daily distractions at home. Those slow morning cups of coffee at the lakehouse and fun daytime activities with community members tend to grow people together in deeper ways that is hard to explain. So if it’s a vacation together (camping, skiing, etc.), or a few hour road trip, retreats almost always draw groups closer to one another (1 Thes. 2:8). (Helpful hint: Doodle.com is a helpful tool to align your group’s many calendars!)
- Serve Together. While some group members may each be serving in their own roles (i.e. Frontlines, The Porch, etc), finding monthly or quarterly ways to serve together as a group can be a great way to strengthen your group! If it’s 2nd Saturday construction, Mercy Street mentoring, or one of our other Watermark partner ministries, finding a common cause to make an impact together has proven to be a great community builder (Mark 10:45).
- Group Participation in a Watermark Ministry. We’ve heard of groups having excellent experiences together as they’ve journeyed through Watermark ministries, like Re:generation, ReEngage, and Moneywise. Experiencing a shared ministry gives everyone a common language, the same tools to work with, and a great experience together.
- In-Town Fun Nights & Game Nights. In-town retreats can also be a great hit! If it’s a Dallas activity like Top Golf, bowling, a backyard BBQ, potluck, or game night…these fun nights out are always great relational investments!
- Unashamed Weekend. Think: weekend urban discipleship trip in West Dallas! This is a terrific opportunity for your entire group to be 1) equipped to share the Gospel, 2) hit the streets of Dallas to share Christ together, and 3) bond together and grow by getting out of your comfort zone in West Dallas over a weekend. Click here to see upcoming Unashamed trip dates (Romans 1:16).
- Regular Communication. The healthiest groups are the ones that interact regularly with one another outside their weekly meeting time. From mid-week meals and socializing, to regular phone calls and text messages (or the GroupMe app), healthy groups pursue one another relationally and are able to fully give an account for one another in “real time” (Romans 12:10).
- Pray Together. A real shocker, right? Sadly, a lot of groups fail to do this. A best practice is to identify a prayer partner each week from your group where you can share personal life updates, find accountability, and pray together for one another’s needs. Additionally, as a group that’s committed to the uncommitted, another best practice is to regularly share updates and pray for one another’s “10 Most Wanted” (that is, the 10 names of our friends and family members who we’re praying would one day know Christ personally, Matt. 28:19-20, James 5:16).
- Do A Study Together. Unsure of where to find great group studies? We can help. Check out our Community Resources page here (and look under “Community Studies”) and/or ask your Community Director here.
- Be Spontaneous. In addition to the planned communication throughout the week, never forget the power of the impromptu and spontaneous invite! From the group text message of “I’m free for dinner tonight – who’s in!?” to the “Home project planned for Saturday…anyone handy with tools want to help!?” …some of the best groups we hear about frequently spend time with one another in the “small and nominal stuff” moments…and those times are priceless, because that’s when life happens.
- Memorize Scripture Together. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” – Psalm 119:11. An excellent way for groups to challenge one another in knowing God’s Word in a deeper way, is to memorize it together. Make it fun…for instance, pick a verse or two each week for the group to memorize, then on group night, draw one name from a hat and have them recite it. Watch the verses add up over time! (Helpful hint: Scripture Typer is an excellent app for this.)
We hope this helps. The list above is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather a simple list of ideas to help your community group grow stronger together.