A Day at Plymouth Heights

What does a typical Friendship group look like? Easy answer – there’s no one “right” way to do an inclusive small group! 

But if you’re looking for some ideas, today we are highlighting a group based in Plymouth Heights Church in Grand Rapids, MI.Their thriving Friendship group has been meeting for many years and hosts about two dozen Friends. They meet in the church basement, where a projector, kitchen, and lots of tables and chairs are easily at hand. Take a closer look with us, and feel free to incorporate some of these ideas into your own group!

Begin with greeting – At this meeting, a few friendly faces stand near the entrance and introduce themselves to each guest. The result is a warm and inviting environment where everyone feels welcome!

Take a seat – Friends are usually paired with a specific mentor who is familiar working with them. They sit together in rows of chairs, alternating between Friend and mentor.This makes for a very fun group dynamic and allows many Friends and mentors to interact with one another.

Keep a schedule – This Friendship group meets on the first three Tuesday evenings of the month. This helps keep a consistent schedule while still allowing for breaks during the longest months of the year!

Sing and sign – A volunteer leads the group in worship, while a projector is used to show sheet music on the screen. In addition to singing, group members are encouraged to follow along with sign language. For some songs, instruments like maracas, drums, or even a microphone are handed out to Friends so they can play along. This leads to a truly accessible worship time!

Chunk the lesson – This group uses the TOGETHER curriculum and takes the lessons in small chunks each week. For example, one evening they watched the video lesson from Pray.!?, answered the questions, and waited until the following week to move further in the lesson. The key is to take the study as fast or slow as your group is comfortable!

Ask for prayer – Because there are so many members, this group has each one list a prayer request and one leader prays for all requests and members by name. The prayer requests are written on a whiteboard up front so that each member feels heard. 

Celebrate the milestones – Any member of the group who has celebrated a birthday recently is celebrated! He or she goes up front and puts on the special birthday hat, and then the whole group sings “Happy birthday” to that person.

Snacks are welcome – To end the meeting, this Friendship group enjoys cookies and juice together. Everyone moves from sitting in rows to gathering at tales to catch up and say goodbye before the evening ends.

And there you have it! We were so encouraged by this Friendship group and the way they show God’s love to one another. If you have photos or a story to share from your inclusive small group, please share them with us at friendship@friendship.org.