In some cultures it is very easy to get to know people and form relationships, where as in others it can be a little more complicated. One would almost expect a people orientated culture such as Latin America to be one of those places where relationship building is easy, however our experience has proven otherwise. Whilst in general there is a greater focus upon relationship over task completion, it is the initiation of a relationship that poses a problem.
We have now been involved in our present church for the last 4 1/2 years, and are still just getting to know some of the people by name as opposed to just recognising them from the backs of their heads as they sit in front of us. Within the church set up here it has been difficult to get to know and speak to people as people trickle into the service up to and beyond an hour of its official start time (for a 2 1/2 hour service!) ourselves included as even with sunday school 1 hour of worship is somewhat taxing for little people - and even big people at times. Then as soon as the service is over, people can't get out the door quick enough to get home for family meals. This leaves people feeling very disconnected and as strangers with one another.
One of our desires when putting together a families group was to get over this problem and create a situation where by families could get to know one another, and to look to each other as a source of friendship and encouragement. This has worked out really well, and it has been an encouragement to us to see people now stopping and talking with one another after a sunday service and making plans for this and that.
We didn't want to see the group become exclusive and looked at ways we could open up this relationship building to the wider congregation, and so as a group we organised a 'Dia del campo' inviting everybody from the congregation to join us at one of the parks for a BBQ and games.
We were not sure at first how many would show up, but as lunch time grew closer more people from the church turned up with their lunches till we counted about 70 adults, plus children. Once everybody was filled up we had some fun with a few games which involved people interacting and chatting with people they had never spoken with before, including ourselves. The following Sunday it was evident that new bridges had been formed as we noted more people taking the time to say hello and chat with others.