Going Beyond the Surface Level of Relationships
Technology and the speed of life is causing us all to spend less quality time together. Sitting down and eating together is no longer a nightly routine for most families. Because of Apps/programs, a lot of co-workers no longer meet face-to-face before they work together. Neighbors wave as they drive by and everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere. This all keeps relationships at a surface level.
Having experiences and time to bond always helps with relationships. Slowing down to just touch base with someone is great, but doing a service activity together is brilliant. Real bonding can take place to get you below the surface. As you work together, the group talks and shares stories. The activity doesn't have to be elaborate, but it does have to be something that everyone can do and there is an end result. There are lots of opportunities available.
"Serve experiences" encourage people to be less internally-focused and more externally-focused. And here is the bonus -- you can add your faith in the mix of it all, which makes it very worthwhile. "You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did" (James 2:22). Be intentional. You are working side-by-side. What story are you going to tell? How will you bring Jesus into the experience? The suggestion isn't a heavy-duty "witness" story. It's all about planting seeds and showing how your faith has made a difference in your life.
From my family going on a mission trip together or serving with co-workers to decorate a shelter for Christmas, I have a variety of wonderful memories where I learned about others, bonded with them, and got to share my faith. Sometimes the work gets tough but it always amazes me when I serve beside someone and share something...how God takes it and makes it the right connection. And some of those connections have become strong bonds.
Whether it be your family, neighbors, or co-workers, you can start by making a plan and inviting the group. These questions may help you get started:
What group do I want to have a serve experience with?
What will we do?
Most churches have lots of local outreach serve opportunities. Or go online and check with a non-profit that you have a passion for their cause: food bank, shelter, community center, and so on.
What date and how will you invite everyone?
How will you weave your faith into the day?
We are all naturally self-focused. Doing an activity with others helps with becoming more in-tune with them and their needs. Jesus is the best model for this. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve," (Mark 10:45). Jesus and his disciples didn't sit in a meeting where he told them all about himself and they bonded. No, he took them with him and they had "serve experiences" together. Serving others, learning about each other, and hearing about Jesus -- do this and I promise you it will produce some great relationships!
If you are in the Sacramento/Roseville area, I have plenty of serve opportunities because of the position I hold at Bayside Adventure. If you're interested, let me know! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless you and your relationships.
Mariann EitzmanDirector of Volunteer Coordination,
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