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Reimagining Community: Ways to Gather this Fall

Crisp air, cozy sweaters, candles burning, gathering.  

Fall is upon us and this year is different, but we don’t want to be alone, we want to gather.  With so much more on our minds this season, how can we gather well?  I believe it’s possible, I believe it’s doable, and I believe it’ll fill your cup more than any seasonal latte will! 

Gathering people together is just something I do.  Friendsgiving, bible study, meeting up with friends for a hike or getting couples together for an evening at our favorite local winery, I’m always up for a gathering.

However, things have changed a bit.  How can we maintain community as we go into the season of togetherness this fall?

I’m here to help, encourage, and hopefully give you some fresh ideas!  While staying in sounds nice, we’ve all done a lot of that over the last several dozen weeks so let’s take advantage of these cooler months to get outside with friends and gather in ways we may have not before.  Along the way we’ll create new traditions while remaining connected to those we love.

I love what Colossians 3:15-16 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

Here we see a bit about being at peace, but also the fellowship that happens when we gather.  Let’s not be divided, let’s come together.

Not everyone will have the same comfort level as you do, and you may not meet all the expectations others have, but putting out some invitations and gathering together this fall is something that need not cause anxiety for you, it should cause thankfulness.

Take these ideas and start inviting.  You’ll soon know where people’s comfort levels lie.  Are they up for camping or a bonfire outside or is a meal with just your family something they’re ready to partake in?  While I don’t claim to be a people-pleaser, it is unique to be in a time when all your invitations may not be received well.  That’s ok. Step back, let it go, and as Colossians reminds us, be at peace.

Camping is a great idea as you’ll be outdoors for everything and very few if any items are shared between families.  I highly recommend booking a spot this fall at your local park if you can, or opt for a first-come, first-served location and decide you’ll wake up early to claim your territory!

Fall also means pumpkin patches and apple orchards.  These spots offer a ton of open space.  Many have beautiful views and are a great place to invite friends to share a picnic lunch or dinner together after you harvest your goods!

Have you considered all the picnic tables tucked in your local state parks?  While some need reservations, the good news is that many do not.  We recently got a spot at Great Meadows State Park tucked in between the tall grass and right near a big, open field for the kids to play.  It was great to be with another family and sit outside with plenty of space for everyone.

What if you want to get a larger group together?  Here’s my advice:  be transparent.  Make sure everyone knows how many are invited and what to expect when they arrive.  Perhaps you’re inviting a bunch of friends to a local winery outside and you’re asking everyone to bring food to share.  This option may not be as well received these days.  An opportunity that might be more considerate would be to find the location, bring some linens to dress up an outdoor table, have soccer balls for the kids, and kindly request that each family prepare their own picnic lunch.

Recently I coordinated a gathering for a bible study.  Instead of meeting upstairs in a cozy family room instead we now meet in a basement with 6 feet between each chair.  While it’s not required it’s a way I can show care for those with concerns.

For many of us camping or having so many meals outside isn’t something we’re used to.  Going on hikes hasn’t filled our calendars in years past.  But what if these new traditions are the ones we cherish the most?  What if we can see not just a little good but a whole lot of great this fall while we gather together?! I can’t wait to see what you do.  Get creative and be sure to tag us so we can see you rooted together in the vine! 

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