a fridea for friendships: college ministry “dinner for 10”

Yesterday I blogged about helping foster friendships within your college ministry. There are a variety of concerns if a ministry isn’t seeing “normal” friendships bloom. So to add to the ideas, here’s a Fridea from way, way back:

This week’s Fridea? Provide an opportunity for a handful of students to attend an evening of eating, conversation, and other fellowship with students.

I’ve actually heard of this idea – often called something like “Dinner for 10″ – in other contexts, and it’s quite flexible. To get started, though, here’s is how I originally heard the idea this week (from a staff member of the ONE28 campus ministry at SMU).

Their idea was to host a dinner at the house of a staffperson, inviting 4-6 “fringe students” who haven’t plugged in to small group involvement yet. Along with those 4-6 students, a handful of well-involved students will be invited to the dinner. The evening might also include games, watching football, or other hangin’ out – all with the hope of bridging students from the edges of the ministry into the “relationship stream.”

Clearly, this is a step beyond an on-campus or post-activity meal. Instead, it gives a common college ministry idea (free food for students) an “upgrade” – in this case, with a little more time, a little more strategy, a little more purposefulness, a little more “fanciness,” and an offer that’s a little more surprising.

So there’s the basic idea, which isn’t too shocking but could actually accomplish quite a bit, it seems.

Of course if we explore the edges while we brainstorm this, we see other possibilities, too.

who: You could also invite…

  • Groups of students to sign up together. (And there don’t necessarily have to be leaders there, either.)
  • Students via “lottery” – maybe two students sign up together (so they have a buddy), but otherwise everyone’s getting to know each other.
  • Adults – from the church (or local churches) – to eat along with the students.
  • Leaders of the ministry (or your church), along with any students who want to sign up. (A Vice President at Texas A&M used to do this – all you had to do was sign up!)

where: You could also hold this…

  • At a restaurant – whether it’s one that’s slightly “fancy” or out-of-the-ordinary, or just the local Chipotle.
  • At a park (“self-catered” or provided).
  • As a progressive dinner (appetizer one place, meal another place, dessert yet another).

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