Tomorrow night, Greg and I will host our monthly documentary club. The idea started as a way for me to get to know more people in Nashville. Also, we love watching documentaries! They are almost always great prompts for discussion.
I have been in a couple of book clubs, in which I have learned some important lessons that went in to creating our current club. First of all, most of our friends here don't have time to be in a book club. That is, of course, unless I want to start reading Greg's syllabus and inviting his friends over to discuss theology. No thank you. I know that if we tried to start a book club, a few people might rally at first but then they would quickly feel overwhelmed by trying to find time to read another book. A documentary club is perfect because it provides a basis for meaningful discussion without any ahead-of-date preparation.
Second, I have learned that it is important to let the group take ownership, gradually. No one wants to be in a book club in which the same person picks the book every month. Likewise, no one would want to be in our documentary club if we picked the film every time. But to get things started, we felt it was important to pick the schedule for the first few months. That way, when we told people about it, they could think, "I can't make it this time, but ooh, look what they're watching next month!" We chose documentaries on diverse topics that we felt would be interesting to people who love documentaries, but also to people who love fashion or food or sociology.
The third and most important thing I have learned is to keep it simple. We offer "light refeshments" which means that I can make fondue, bake tedious cookie recipes, or sometimes just pick up a bag of chips. I can't get overwhelmed by the responsibility of providing the snacks. We also keep it BYOB. If someone else offers to host next month, great! If someone wants to bake each person their own individual flourless chocolate waffle, fabulous! But if not, we'll be here, watching the movie, with simple snacks. No problem.