Hebrews 10: 25 contains one of my favorite words in the Bible. Parakaleō (παρακαλέω) is the Greek word which we translate to “encourage.” This super fun Greek word is a multidimensional word meaning, ‘to call to one’s side; to address; to admonish; to beseech; to strengthen; to comfort; to instruct or teach.’
I’ve talked about this word before in my post Do I have to go to church? but today I’m gonna share some of my favorite ways that I’ve parakaleo-ed outside the church walls (well, technically, I guess I was still in them since I live at the church but you get the idea)
While it’s necessary that we actually go to church, we can also enjoy parakaleo with some bet-you-forget-how-much-you-loved-that activities.
These suggestions are not just some weird random things that I thought up. Nope. These have all been tested with our senior high teenagers and/or persons up to age 36.
Over the years, I’ve found that most of the time people try really had to make community time “relevant” when all that most people is a chance to enjoy something outside of their norm. Granted, not everyone was good at the things that we tried but they still enjoyed the time we shared together. Having something to do with the hands (that doesn’t include a phone) makes conversation possible. And, as long as we’re mindful within those conversations, great “encouragement” can happen.
So, without further ado, here are five of my favorite bet-you-hadn’t-considered-that-in-a-long-time activities. :)
I admit, I was taken by surprise with this one. I hadn’t made a woven friendship bracelet in years! In fact, it wasn’t even me who thought of it. We were walking through Walmart with a few of our high school seniors, purchasing last minute items for our upcoming fundraiser, when one girl says, “Oh! can we buy stuff for friendship bracelets!”
Immediately, the whole gaggle of girls was excited. Jay and I laughed but we bought the cheap-o kit. Although the fundraiser started at 6:30 the next morning, the girls were up until 3am! I didn’t last long but a few weeks later they asked to make bracelets again during Girls Night! While we all sat and knotted, we talked, laughed, shared, and sang along to Disney song.
Of course, you many want to up your game with an awesome kit like this from THELOOME
This one was hilarious! Just go to Pinterest, search for Pool Noodle Nunchucks, and begin! Every boy who has ever made one of these, regardless of his age, has had so much fun! First they make it, then they beat each other with it. Apparently, my fear that the activity would be too “childish” was unfounded.
3. Find out how many kids you’ll have
This was an old sleepover game that girls used to play — and apparently still like to play. And it’s still definitely a girl thing — whether single or married. The game is simple but loaded with laughs. As long as no one takes it too seriously, this is a good way to open conversation about relationships, expectations, and dreams. It doesn’t have to get super deep but little nuggets of learning about each other can happen.
4. Scavenger Hunt It Up!
We’ve done this within time limits, with video cameras, with collection instructions, and even dressed as spies. Etsy is loaded with scavenger hunts for Bachelorette parties and kids but think outside those boxes! Put a little effort in, get creative, and be okay with things not going as planned. Everyone will laugh, even the strangers that see you. Most people will feel a little awkward at first but I promise the effort put in will be well worth the memories that will be made.
Conversations with each other happen between tasks and new things are learned about each other. This is one of the best activities ever in my book!
5. Talk about EAT CLUB!
Okay, so this can be done formally, haphazard, or even themed. The point is, break bread together, have fun! Invite some people you rarely see, lock up the phones, and eat, drink, and be merry.
Make eating together a regular thing but remember to invite new people occasionally. You grow together when you eat together but the Church grows bigger when we invite others to do life with us.
Personally, I love doing a themed dinner occasionally. Everyone gets a good laugh and comfort levels are stretched just a bit. But whatever you do, do it with a good attitude. There’s a lot of help out there — you don’t need to be a good cook just willing to host.
Everything I’ve shared to today can be adapted and adjusted. Some people will never step foot into a church but they may just be willing to accept an invite to dinner. Sure, hold some special time for just you and other believers but don’t limit yourself — you’d be surprise how many people are just in need of friendship.
And if you’re one of those people in need of friendship — step out and bring the friends to you.