Last week, I had the privilege to spend several hours with one of my mentors in Neighborhood ministry.  It was, as usual, a very educational and motivational time.  We discussed relationships and how people are begging for relationships.  

His church has been providing people with “A Place to Belong” by starting montly meal groups in neighborhoods for about 11 months now.  They encouraged members to have a monthly meal in their home for fellow church-members/attenders.  In the beginning it was okay to drive up to 10 minutes to attend one of these meals.  Now most people want to be close enough to walk to the meal, so more host homes are being enlisted.  It was due to these relationships growing that a sense of community developed at these meals.  There was no data talked, no numbers discussed, no agenda to cover, just relationships being built.  The discovery:  people want to spend more time with those close to them and build relationships and community.

A new metrics has been formed in the culture of America.  Ten years ago weekly staff meetings or briefings were mostly about reports, numbers, money and the bottom line–data–.  Much effort was put into a fancy spread sheet or the presentation to show how this will help make your organization be a success.  However, these same meetings now include more time for “stories.” “What are you hearing? What are they feeling? How can this give us a better image?”   Data is no longer the main thing or the only thing! The new metrics for evaluation is relationships!

In my work it is all about relationships and the ‘stories’.  Sure data is helpful, but people are begging for relationships!  We are working to provide people more opportunities to build relationships and community.  Easter Egg Hunts and July 4th Festivities (and other events) have been moved from our main campus to neighborhoods so that you will get to know others and continue to build relationships after this once-a-year event.  Our ministry field has been divided into regions so we can help serve and build the communities in which we live.   The Campus of FBC Smyrna has been designed to enable you to build  community and relationship as well.  Once a quarter we have Group Link which is a two-hour event where you will connect with others and form a Small Group and it meets quarterly throughout the year.  The World Cup Cafe is a very popular area on Sundays and Wednesdays for you to enjoy a cup of coffee and spend time with others.  The hallways have been furnished with sofas and chairs to also allow you a place to sit and spend time chatting and building relationships. 

You are probably getting excited about the possibilities that exist in your life to build relationships.  Relationships are not something ‘extra’ or ‘else’ to do, let them develop naturally. Use what you already have.  Smyrna Bugs Baseball travel team takes a lot of time.  However, by being intentional, I have some of the best friends in the world because of baseball and a lot of time together.   We plan time together (practice and weekend tournaments) which led to the opportunity to build relationships.Relationships are not ‘something else to do.”  They are essential to how God made us. 

Take your calendar, see what you are already doing over the next three weeks.  Mark one or two things that you can do that are already natural relationship builders.  You may want to just have a cookout to build relationships with some of your neighborhoods.  Don’t let the summer pass without taking the opportunities you already have to learn some stories and build relationships. 

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