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    A Tea Party to Foster YOUR Friendships

    Guest post by Mel K.

    In light of last week’s Fostering Friendships Challenge, I wanted to share my personal experience. The challenge couldn’t have better timing because it took place just before my annual tea party!

    The Problem

    One of the problems I have is that I want to invite everybody! So, I do! This year the guest list grew to over 60 invitees! In the end, about 30 people showed up. Generally speaking, I know my friends and family are blessed through the food, ambience, and love…but I always want to provide a richer, deeper experience that doesn’t just fill their stomachs, but their hearts! I want the women in my life to walk away encou
    raged, refreshed, and joyful! Because the guest list includes all of my friends from different places and walks of life, it can be awkward for guests who don’t know each other. The age ranged from 7 months to over 60 years old! Can we say Fostering Friendships Challenge?!

    Fostering Friendships Challenge

    Thankfully, the Fostering Friendships Challenge helped prepare my mind and heart for the tea party. The verse that inspired me was from Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

    I know it’s easy to go to a party or social gathering and have small talk without any substance. You may be struggling through life but not mention it to a single person because who wants to be a debbie downer? It’s so easy to be around friends but still walk away empty. The reality is, we all carry burdens, but how often do we share it with our friends. How often do our friends open up to us? And yet, here, Christ is telling us that we should bear one another’s burdens – it’s part of friendship.

    How to Bear One Another’s Burdens Ice Breaker

    You may ask, how do you do this? How do you incorporate this into a party with 30 guests who are strangers?! This seems complicated…Well, it wasn’t complicated at all. In fact, is super easy!

    1. I set 2 bowls at the entrance with some paper and pens. The first bowl gave instructions to write your name and one thing you’re thankful for. The second bowl said to write on two separate sheets, your name and two things you are burdened by or worried/anxious about.
    2. We started the party with a worship song – Be Thou My Vision and then a prayer. Not everyone at the party was a Christian, but this was one small way to share Christ and live a life that is set apart from others. It may seem odd to them, but it’s important to start the party with our priorities straight, giving worship to God. And wow, it was such a glorious and beautiful sound to hear my sisters in Christ praising God in unity! Just a simple act, but I know it encouraged the sisters in Christ, and they were a shining light of Christ to everyone else.
    3. I told everyone there was one rule for the tea party – everyone had to make 3 new friends.Then, each person drew three pieces of paper from the bowls.
    4. Each guest had to track down the names they drew from the bowl. They shared their burdens and thanksgivings. Then, the person listening gave a word of encouragement to their new friend.

    Results

    God’s word says, “…If there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8) Sometimes, in the midst of my own heartache, I struggle to praise God and give him thanks. Some of the things guests said they were thankful for were family, health, and life. Just hearing that helps me put things in perspective. Too often, I take those things for granted and I don’t have a heart of gratitude toward God.

    Hearing what my friends are thankful for helps me to be more thankful too.

    People shared their worries and anxieties about – jobs, school, student loans, and family. What a privilege to share this with other people and find out they have the same concerns.  It’s reassuring to know you’re not in it alone! Someone else literally shares this burden!

    As a result of the challenge, everyone seemed to have a great time! Initially, there were very separate groups – my family, friends from my former church, friends from my current church, and then a few friends who did not necessarily have any connections to anyone! But after the icebreaker, everyone seemed to feel comfortable chatting in big and small groups. Everyone walked away with a lighter load on their shoulders, knowing someone else was carrying their burden


    Mel loves Jesus, coffee, and people. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and University of Southern California where she studied social work and public administration. She is now studying to get her Ph.D. in Leadership at Dallas Baptist University.  Mel used to live in a discipleship house in an urban missions field in Massachusetts. She saw first hand, the importance of living out the Gospel in community with others. Now, she lives in Houston with her husband, where they serve their local church together. She loves encouraging and empowering women to live a life of style and substance. You can follow her on Instagram and read more about fashion and her journey of faith on her blog, Confessions of a Work in Progress.

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