Family Soup Night
Anne and I recently started a new get together at our house called Soup Night. The premise is simple: We know other families, they all have kids, they all eat dinner every night… Why not invite them over to have dinner with our family? I know, a very novel concept indeed.
We had been thinking about starting up a new community group for awhile, but we always seemed to run into logistical challenges because of our stage of life. Our kids are seven, five, and two years old. The reality for us is that childcare is the hardest part of getting together if we want to connect at a deeper level with other parents. To actually get the adults together seemed to require a babysitter.
Despite this challenge that I am sure all parents know, we came to a conclusion that we were going to start with what we could do now, rather than focus on what we couldn’t figure out. What if we just gathered families, whether or not there was a great “environment” for deep conversations? What if we just invited over other families for dinner, rather than having deep spiritual content to explore together? What if we used a simple gathering to start conversations and relationships that could grow and go deeper in other settings?
Instead of needing the perfect setting or set up, we decided to focus on where God had placed us and what we could do right now.
After talking about it for a couple months, we finally sat down and took action. We organized an evite and sent it out to seven or eight families that live in our part of town. Five families responded. Soup Night was on!
The following Monday night at six-ish (when are families with young kids ever perfectly on time?), ten adults and thirteen children descended upon our home. It was awesome… and very chaotic! Kids were running around everywhere. Even in the chaos of activity and children, community was being established. The house was loud with the buzz of conversations and new relationships were forming.
Three hours later, Anne and I discussed how the night went. The more we thought and talked about it, the more we realized how rare community is in our culture today. Rare especially among families with small children.
The Value of Community
I know I find it difficult to invest in community because raising a family is a huge amount of work in and of itself, and I constantly fight an overloaded schedule. Maybe you do as well. The demands of school, sports, and other social events keep most families running around at full speed almost constantly. We never seem to have even enough time for ourselves, much less anyone else. When we do have that rare evening to ourselves, our natural desire is to take a breather rather than spending it with other families.
But, like anything else in life that is worth investing in, community is so valuable. Not only is community valuable, it’s actually essential to our well-being.
God designed us to live in community. (Even community with lots of kids, believe it or not!) He designed the church to function with a diverse set of skills, personalities, and traits that He distributes to different people. He built you and I in a way where we actually need other people to be completed, and to be able and live out what he has called each of us to individually.
Please don’t fall into the trap of believing you can survive and thrive on your own. You can’t. You may be able to make it alone for a season but eventually you will start breaking down if you don’t have true community in your life.
Think about what community looks like in your life. How may God want to work in and through your relationships if you were open to his leading?
I’ve found that at times if I feel overwhelmed or stressed to the point where I feel like I can’t invest in community, that may be the time that I actually need community the most. God may want to use us in our different communities to serve others, and receive encouragement through those relationships. Are you open to this?
If you’re not currently in community, would you take a specific step this week to pray daily and ask God how you can either join an existing community or start a new one? You may be surprised at how he wants to work, even if you feel like you don’t currently have any margin in your life to make this investment of time.