Starting a new group at church can be a daunting prospect. You want to choose something that will pique the interest of your members without overwhelming them. One type of group that almost everyone can participate in is a walking group. While it may not seem like a particularly spiritual endeavor on the surface, members may experience many benefits that help them feel more engaged with the church.
Any group that promotes regular physical activity is going to improve the health of its members. A walking group is ideal for churches because it supports both physical and social well-being. It encourages those who may otherwise live sedentary lives to add more movement to their days, but the low-impact nature of walking helps them maintain conversations while they do it.
A good starting point for a walking group is to aim for meeting three times a week. Depending on the schedules of those who express interest, you may choose to walk on three different days at the same time or at different times on multiple days. As you start to walk together, you may decide that three days isn't enough and choose to make your meetings a daily routine. Don't be surprised if your initial group branches off into smaller groups that walk together at times that are more convenient for them. This means that your initial plan is working. They're developing closer relationships and staying active at the same time.
Church leaders often struggle to find ways to keep members engaged. Some members want to just show up for services, donate money and have no further involvement. Most members, however, probably join your church because they want to find a place where they belong. They may be hesitant about committing to specific ministries, though, for various reasons:
- Shy personality
- Fear of failure
- Uncertainty about time requirement
- Lack of training
A walking group bridges the gap between those who want to be involved in some way but don't see how they fit in other groups. Just about everyone can join a walking group. Strolling around the neighborhood together is a simple enough activity that it can appeal to a wide variety of people. Walking tends to be more accessible than the activity level of other exercise groups. Even those who use devices to enhance their mobility can still enjoy the social benefits of a regular community walk.
So much of the activity of the church happens on its property. A walking group helps you get to know the surrounding neighborhood better. You may find yourselves passing the same people every day and becoming familiar with them. They may even stop to introduce themselves after a while. Even an act as simple as walking through the area surrounding your church can foster a deeper sense of community and your place in it.
Walking through the surrounding area can also alert you to its needs. What starts as an easy way to get together can turn into a powerful force for supporting your city. Your walking group may plan a fundraiser to help the local community center on the daily route buy new equipment for its afterschool program. Its members may host a walk-a-thon to raise awareness for a local charity. The more time your group spends together, the more connected they are likely to feel to the community and thus the more inspiration they may feel to support it.
A walking group is a good way to encourage church members to get together for fun and fellowship. What starts as a way to get people more active and involved can easily blossom into an integral part of the church's ministry.