Food is a centerpiece of the Bible. One modern writer even insists that Jesus “eats his way through the New Testament.” Acts 2:46, a small group staple, tells us, “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”
Confession: I am the small group director at my church, Good News Church, and my small group does not eat at our weekly small group meeting. Gasp!
Here is why: “Small Group” is not a weekly event--it’s, to borrow the oft-used phrase, “doing life together.” Last I checked, doing life together doesn’t mean spending time together only once per seven days! So how and when do we break bread together? We share meals throughout the week--coffee at the Hyppo, popcorn at a Flagler basketball game, coffee (and maybe a muffin) at the Hyppo, a dinner date at someone’s house, a picnic at the Fort, lunch at Flavors, pizza on a Friday night, and coffee (and maybe a muffin and a bagel (possibly a popsicle)) at the Hyppo.
The dynamics of each small group are different. For example, the rhythm of my current small group makes including a meal very difficult. After we catch up and greet one another, we start with a song and then jump into discussion. There has been a ton of interest in discussing the weekly readings, so our group, which is on the large side (20+), is eager to discuss what they have been reading all week. So between our conversations about Scripture, Sunday’s message, and all the other items provided in The Study, our discussions can last a long time! Then when we split up to pray, we almost always go well past our 15-minute mark, typically going over time by another 10-15 minutes or so.
That said, we certainly encourage you to share meals, every week if possible. The key is determining what is priority to your small group. For example, if life and kids and circumstances don’t allow for a weekly meal together, know that you are afforded grace. Rather than worrying about getting your small group meeting “right,” simply be intentional about creating life overlap with your small group members. Spend enough time with people and eventually you will share a meal...which will lead to other meals.
Have other ideas about meals at small group? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.