Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a fun and unique women’s ministry fellowship our church calls “Guess who’s coming to dinner!”
Women volunteer to serve as hostesses for a potluck dinner in their home, but only the hostess knows who is on the guest list and what the menu will be.
This type-A, Martha likes to know the details, but I approached the event as an adventure. I ended up having a fabulous time and enjoyed meeting women I did not know.
I discovered that this is the 10th year our women’s ministry has hosted “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” It’s one of their most popular events!
In true type-A fashion, I’m sharing all of the details with you so you can take this idea and put it to use in your own church or community.
The potlucks happened simultaneously. In our case, everyone was meeting at 6:30 PM on a Wednesday night.
We registered online or in person in advance and awaited a message from our hostess revealing herself and the location. We only found out who the other dinner guests were when we walked through her door.
I received a text from my hostess that included:
- Her name
- Her address
- A reminder of our meeting time J
- The number of expected guests (ours was 8, but only 6 were able to come)
- What she planned to serve for the main entrée (we had grilled chicken)
- What sides she was suggesting to round out our meal (“We could use a salad, vegetables, bread, a starch like potatoes or rice, dessert, and drinks.”)
- Her phone number and an email address.
She texted back when a dish was taken to those of us who had not responded yet.
I wasn’t sure what to expect.
- Would there be anyone I know? (I did know the hostess.)
- Would they all jump out when I rang the doorbell and shout “Guess who’s coming to dinner?!” (In case you’re wondering, that did not happen.)
- Would we find something to talk about or would the conversation stall?
- Would it be weird?
Turns out there was no need to worry. We ate and talked for over 3 hours!! I suspect other groups broke for the evening much earlier than we did.
All but one face was new to me, which wasn’t entirely unexpected since we’ve only been at this church about 8 months.
If you’re thinking of planning a similar event for your women, I’ve got some tips and suggestions to share.
Planning Tips for “Guess who’s coming to dinner!”
- The planning team for the event was very intentional in placing women in each group. Friends, especially those one might view as a clique, were not placed in the same group. Groups were multigenerational. Groups were also somewhat based on proximity. My hostess lives in my neighborhood. One guest lives in the neighborhood across the street from ours. Others were close by, but not that close. There was at least one new face for every person in our group – make that a goal.
- Give yourself time to arrange the groups. We had to register 11 days before the event. Pray and ask God to show you how to place your women so they’ll make meaningful connections.
- Provide clear instructions for your hostesses. Including when, what, and how to communicate with their guests.
- Ask everyone to take a photo of their dinner party and post it with a specific hashtag. Ask them to make their post public so others can see it.
- Encourage your hostesses to prepare an icebreaker question and have an easy group game on standby (Apples to Apples would be a good suggestion.) We didn’t need either!
- If you have more hostesses than registrations, add a co-host to each dinner party. We had one at ours. Diane was super gracious, re-filling our drinks, helping to clear the table, etc.
- If you have a large church and/or a number of women with dietary restrictions, consider creating one or two groups just for them.
Additional Thoughts on Food and Drink
Consider adding the words “non-alcoholic” to requests for drinks for you potluck dinners. In some churches, this may seem obvious, but it’s always better to be clear than to have caused someone to be uncomfortable or even stumble. Whether you know it or not, there are women in your church who are alcoholics.
If you are aware of food allergies/diets, give your hostess a heads-up. Unless the group has been designated especially for those with dietary needs, I would not ask the group to conform to their cooking to the need as shining attention on that woman may make her extremely uncomfortable. As one who cannot have gluten, I’ve personally found that unless someone has the same need (or regularly cooks according to that need for a loved one) they could accidentally put that person’s health at risk.
Serving Multiple Purposes
Churches with multiple services will find this helps overcome the issue of only knowing/seeing those who attend the same service.
While I’m all about inviting Jesus to the dinner party, I found He showed up in conversation naturally. We have two services so one of the first questions we asked each other is, “Which service do you attend?” We also talked about if we were involved in Bible study. One mentioned that she’s leading three of our book club meetings this summer.
Before dinner was over, I had connected via Facebook with two of my new friends. The next day, one messaged me with some information that related to our conversation the night before. One woman is a recent widow and moved to the area recently and I’m looking forward to making plans with her soon. I pray the same kinds of connections will happen for your women!
As you make plans for fellowships for your women, be sure to consider hosting “Guess who’s coming to dinner!”
You may also want to read:
105 Christian Ladies Night Out Ideas
40 Fall Fellowship Ideas
Fellowship Idea: Workshops
How to Host a Bible Journaling Event
How to Engage Mulitple Generations
How can we keep cliques from harming our ministry?
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