Take Your Church Beyond Handshakes and Hellos

Hello My Name Is Sticker

For some, not knowing the people in their church can be a significant barrier to church involvement. When it’s hard to find a familiar face in your church, it’s tough to see that Christian community as family. Unfortunately, this can become a self-perpetuating cycle—you don’t know people, so you don’t get involved, so you don’t meet people.

That may or may not be true for you, but I think we can all agree on this:

Weekly handshakes and hellos are not enough to get to know your church.

If your church desires to be a community that feels like family, your congregation needs opportunities to build relationships.

Create opportunities for community

Recently, Faithlife found itself experiencing a similar situation. With over 420 employees, Faithlife is larger than the average church (though certainly smaller than many churches). We’re big enough to know that people who have worked here for years still haven’t had a chance to meet everyone.

Eric Olson has been with Faithlife for over 10 years, and he says, “Many years ago I knew all 60 people in the company, but now that there are over 400 of us, there are many people I’ve never met.”

We have numerous departments and teams within those departments which build close friendships through daily interactions. But beyond that, how do you get to know all those people you have so much in common with, yet never see?

To solve this problem, Auresa Nyctea, a developer, created a special Faithlife Group open to all Faithlife employees. Its purpose? Facilitate opportunities for employees to meet people they’ve never met or worked with. Each week, employees who have joined the group are put into a group of four people from other departments. From there, it’s up to the individuals in the group to coordinate their schedules and settle on a time and place to meet and chat.

“I don’t get to interact with very many people outside of my department on a regular basis,” says Lynnea Fraser, an editor from the publications department. “I’ve been at Faithlife just over two years now, and I still don’t know a lot of my coworkers throughout the company.”

Lynnea was among the nearly 50 employees who were eager to meet new faces. Lynnea says, “I haven’t spent additional time with anyone I’ve met yet. But I do say ‘hi’ if I see them around campus now. And I actually know their names, which makes it less awkward.”

Having some context for meeting new people makes it easier to connect and share. “During the first meet up, we took turns giving a three-minute summary of our personal history—where we grew up, where we went to school, our families, and how we came to work at Faithlife. We took turns talking about our role at Faithlife—what projects we work on, what our typical day looks like, etc.”

These meetings have no structure. There is no curriculum. Just people. Every meeting looks a little different because they happen organically.

“Gathering together around food or coffee is my ideal way to get to know people better,” says Michael Schoonmaker, a developer at Faithlife. “That kind of fellowship runs deep in my family, my faith, and among my friends.”

Now imagine what this could look like for your church.

If your church isn’t using a Faithlife Group yet, it’s time to get on board. It’s a free church communication tool.

Start your church group now

Groups like this take little upkeep—people join because they want to get to know each other. By creating the group and pointing people to it as a church, you get to be the catalyst that helps people build community. If you’re staff is already stretched too thin, delegate the group to a member of your congregation—just don’t delegate the responsibility to tell people about your group.

If you want people to join your group, make it clear that the church is recommending it. Slip it into your announcements. Include it in your contact information. Send an invite in your newsletter, or share the link on social media. Show people that the Faithlife Group is a place the church suggests you go if you would like to get to know other members in another setting.

You’ll also want to adjust your group’s privacy settings so that anyone from your church can find the group and join.

Take your congregation further

If you or someone at your church has time to invest in the group, it’s easy to add curriculum, share church documents, or encourage further learning or serving opportunities. You can add official documents right to the group to keep all of your crucial information in one place.

If you want these group meetings to have more structure, create some sample questions designed to spark meaningful conversations and help people get to know one another.

As your Faithlife Group grows and your congregation gets to know each other, you can develop even more meaningful community with advanced features like prayer lists and Community Notes.

Your Faithlife account is free.

All Faithlife Group features are free.

Join Faithlife Groups today, and get started with your church.


  1. says

    As an older pastor, I would like to foster friendship with other seniors. In Florida many seniors live in 55+ communities. We share similar needs and concerns, as well as an akin spirit. Sharing personal insights from scripture and ‘bearing one another’s burdens’ is a desirable and valuable mutual ministry. What do you think?

    • Ryan Nelson says

      Hi Tommy. If you already have a community of seniors that are internet savvy and interested in online community, Faithlife Groups would work great. If you’re asking how to find an existing community of seniors online though, Faithlife Groups may not be the best fit.

  2. Wayneford McFarlane says

    I welcome this method. Recently one of the churches I pastor decided to use name tags each Sunday to help members know each other better at least by name and then to move on to interact better. This idea will take the strengthening of our fellowship a little farther as we seek to build meaningful relationships. I will definitely try it.

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