By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “social bubble,” a concept that is being put into practice in many places as part of transitioning into a post-lockdown world.
Simply put, a social bubble is “a group of individuals or families whose members have been safely quarantining and who can now start hanging out with other similarly observant groups, so long as the families continue to observe safety guidelines and agree to be exclusive.”
Our social bubble can be a powerful way for us to encourage one another and build each other’s faith in-person, while being considerate of one another’s health. Here are 5 ways to start building your bubble today.
Note: each Bay Area county is transitioning at different paces, and the degree to which you are permitted to meet in person will vary. Please consult your local government’s website for up to date guidelines.
1. Believe in the bubble
For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord.  When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.Romans 1:11-12 NLT
Building a bubble starts with believing in the incredible power of fellowship to make us stronger.
We’re grateful for virtual tools like Zoom that have enabled us to connect over these long months of sheltering at home. But, as many of us have experienced, Zoom fatigue is real; video calls can’t replace the encouragement of person-to-person connection.
The Washington Post recently published an article about three families in Northern Virginia who decided to keep their homes open to each other through the pandemic. The parents shared responsibilities like childcare, homeschooling, and meals between their three households.
This arrangement provided not only physical support but also immense emotional support for all three sets of parents and children:
Being able to seek support and pandemic parenting advice — or just complain to another adult who is not a spouse — is also priceless.
“I like to think I could have managed emotionally without these guys,” Tara West said, “but I don’t think so.”Hannah Natanson, “Locked down together, three neighborhood families share teaching, Legos and everything else”
The story of these three families paints an inspiring picture of how relationships make us stronger. The spiritual friendships in our bubble can help us in a number of ways.
For example, the Bible teaches that friendships help us by:
- Relieving anxiety – Proverbs 12:25 NIV Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
- Creating intimacy – 1 John 1:6 MSG But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.
- Encouraging growth – Ephesians 4:16 NLT He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Building your own bubble begins with believing that this group will be a great source of spiritual strength.
2. Build hope
Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope.Acts 20:1 MSG
We live in a world in desperate need of hope and change, and many of us as Christians deeply desire to make a difference. As we start thinking about building our bubble, it’s important to understand that gathering together is an opportunity to build hope.
When we meet together and help each other grow into who we’re meant to be, we’ll be more equipped to bring hope to the world around us.
3. Begin small
The exact number of people with whom you can interact outside of your household varies slightly based on the county you live in. At the time of writing, most of the Bay Area is allowing outdoor religious gatherings of 25 people or less, or “social bubbles” of 12 people or less.
We recommend starting small by picking 6 friends to be part of your circle. If you’re married, you and your spouse can each pick 6 friends. When you feel comfortable, combine your groups of 6 friends to make a group of 12. Eventually, you can combine with another group of 12 to make 25.
4. Be outside
Always plan to meet with your bubble outdoors in uncrowded spaces. Backyards and front yards are great, but if you don’t have them you can try an uncrowded park or courtyard.
According to the experts, being outside allows us to have plenty of space between us so that we are much less likely to get each other sick:
“Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the UCSF School of Medicine, said that in all circumstances the outdoors are safer than indoors. It is easier to maintain social distancing and the virus does not have as many opportunities to spread. That’s why tuberculosis patients were always placed out in the fresh air. “If you want to meet people, meet them outside,” he said. “It is all about risk reduction.”SF Chronicle
5. Be vulnerable
This is new for all of us. Don’t be afraid to speak honestly about any fears, insecurities, or desires you might have about forming a bubble with your friends around you.
Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you.  There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us.  I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!2 Corinthians 6:11-13 NLT
Honest conversations will help you build trust and intimacy with your bubble group. Talk about which activities you feel comfortable with and which ones you don’t (Outdoor dining? Swimming pools? Summer camps? None of the above?).
Vulnerability and honesty help us consider each other’s needs and protect us from becoming resentful if we feel those needs aren’t being met.
As we come together and help each other grow, we will continue to build the church God intended, and bring healing to the world around us.