Building Community Among Your Girls
Community is SO important to girls. If they feel loved and surrounded by friends, their insecurities melt and their hearts open to listen to God’s Word and older godly women who love them. Building a sense of community among the girls in your group is vital. Girls must feel the excitement of belonging and being cared for by you, leaders and peers. If they do not feel like they are “a part” they will likely attend sporadically or pretty regularly but never grow and thrive within the body. Whether you are on a church staff, a small group leader, volunteer, or a mom there are lots of ways to build community among girls.
THE WELCOME WAGON
For services and events, I had 1-2 girls from Junior High and High School that I sought out to welcome visitors. These girls sat with the new girls, walked with them across to big church, and asked them to go to lunch during the week or after the service. They also friended them on facebook or got their number so they could send something encouraging during the week saying it was nice to meet them. This made the new girls feel welcome and helped girls that I saw the gifts of kindness and hospitality in really develop those gifts. And, these girls did a great job of introducing these girls to others!
Your goal is for every girl, no matter her past or present, to feel welcome by not only adults but also other girls. A great way to do that is by sharing the community building with the girls!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
There is something special (and easy!) about just sharing a meal and chatting.For building community among existing girls, try different things- not every option will work for every girl. One thing I did that I loved was small Sunday lunches after church. Like only 8th grade one week, only 10th one week, etc. After church we simply grabbed food, and I asked them questions I knew they would have in common. Questions included:
- How have you tried to share your faith after DNow?
- What do you love about High School/Junior High?
- What do you miss about middle school?
When girls feel heard, they are less likely to feel alone and more likely to feel connected. Your goal is to make girls realize that they have similar struggles and experiences; modeling a culture of sharing and vulnerability.
MIX N' MINGLE
We did fun events like “Crafts and Conversations” to mix grades. For example, invite 7th and 11th grades, pairing an older with a younger girl to help her with her craft and chat. I brought conversation starters. Questions included:
- What's your fave food?
- Where was your fave vacation?
- If you had $5000 what would you do?
- What is your fave holiday and why?
Your goal is to give the younger girls role models, and make the older girls remember how important mentoring and being nice to the younger girls is.
No matter the size of your group, grab a handful of girls and get out of the building to make a memory. Share a meal, do anything random they can put on Instagram, read the same book, or serve together. You could even have an inside joke about going to Ihop in pajamas or to a movie all dressed alike! But remember, proximity doesn’t equal intimacy. I always had conversation starters or questions in my mind to make sure everyone could speak, hear, and listen.
Your goal is to make them feel like they can be themselves and be accepted. Your other goal is to show them ways to bond and do life outside of structured Sunday hours.
I also like to put 10 girls that I want to know each other on the same Facebook message or GroupMe. I write a verse then ask them to interact with it. They end up keeping the message going and adding new verses. I bow out and start another message with other girls. Your goal is to engage and connect them where they are outside of church.
Community can begin with Sunday gatherings, but it's not community if they are only in each other's world for 1.5 hours. They see people in Algebra 2 longer than that... Getting girls together to have fun and do spiritual things outside of Sunday is key to them feeling like they are friends and that someone in the group cares or has their backs.
I encourage you to think through some community goals for your group and how you will get there. We would love for you to share your goals and ideas as well as things you've already done here with us on the blog. Remember, we are all better together! - Amy