Our next Friendship Group highlight comes from the other side of Canada: Lacombe, Alberta. Donna Vandenborn serves as a mentor of a wonderful Friendship Group at Bethel CRC. We recently had the pleasure of talking to her about her group. Read on to gain encouragement and ideas for your own Bible study group.
How long has your Friendship Group been together?
Many years. At least more than 25 years.
How many members are in your group?
21 friends and 16 mentors.
How often does your group meet?
Every Monday from the end of September to the beginning of May, but we are off all public holidays.
What does a typical Friendship Group meeting look like?
We meet at 7:00 and welcome everyone. Then we sing together as a group for about 15 minutes, which is followed by prayer requests. We pray for 10 minutes, then we tell the story for 20-30 minutes. Finally, friends have a one-on-one meeting with a mentor for about 10-15 minutes. To close, we sing together our blessing and then have a snack. We’re typically done by 8:30.
What are some ways that you have made everyone in your group feel like they belong?
We discuss this topic at every meeting. We talk about how they are never alone and assure them that Friendship is a special place for them to come where they are loved and supported. Many of our friends have made connections with each other and meet during the week for coffee and visits.
Additionally, we make sure everyone feels like they belong on Friendship Sunday. Everybody gets a “job,” ranging from greeter, to reader, to handing out bulletins. We also have a banquet and play at the end of the year. Everyone participates in the play, and they are dressed in full costume. Family members and friends are encouraged to come watch the show and eat dinner. Finally, when it’s a friend’s birthday, we make sure we celebrate with cake and a song!
How have you seen your Friendship Group affect your church and vice versa?
We have a free community dinner at church every Thursday night. Many of our friends come to the dinner since Bethel is their homechurch. We also have a few friends that volunteer at the dinner. They will help set up, serve, and clean up. It’s great to see members of the church and our friends connecting as they know each other from the dinner.
Which study has been your favorite?
That’s a tough question! My favorite lessons are the ones that touch our friends. The ones they can relate to.
What activity has been a highlight?
We have so many highlights in a year! But to name a few:
- Christmas story as told by a guest (this year it was our pastor and last year it was a former teacher that visited)
- Christmas Crafts and our Christmas Party with gift exchange
- Board game night
- Singing at our local Seniors Lodge
- Show and share
- The year end play and banquet
What advice do you have for future Friendship Group leaders?
Don’t stress too much on what works and does not work in a single night. Your goal should be that everyone walks away feeling loved and supported not only by God, but by the friends and mentors that meet with them each week. After our monday night meetings, I feel my cup has been filled up and I am ready to tackle the rest of the week. Stop, enjoy and listen.
Want to start your own Friendship Group? It’s simple! Learn how here.