Our church does this thing that is fairly popular with Evangelicals. They facilitate the process for regular attenders to form "small groups". We meet once a week, usually 3-4 weeks in a row and then we take a week off each month. You're matched up by age, location, and stage of life.
In our group we do bible studies and read books together. Often, we choose topics related to marriage and child-raising. It's pretty laid back and it has added tremendous value to our marital relationship and our parenting ability.
One of the unexpected delights (and disappointments) is that we are encouraged to break up every year and a half or so and form a new group. This is usually a sad time at first, but it keeps the cast of characters in our lives fresh and unique. You end up befriending people who have the very basics in common with you, and sometimes little else. If it wasn't for small group you never would have met.
Our good friends Jody, Jennifer and baby Makenna, who we met via small group, are an excellent example. I don't golf. I'm not "outdoorsy". I don't have a green thumb. On the surface, Jody and I don't have a great deal in common. Needless to say, we don't run in the same social circles. But we're friends now. And we have way more in common that I ever would have imagined in the beginning. He's the kind of guy you do not want to be around if you have a weak bladder because he is so funny he will make you pee your pants. His dedication to his family and wife is an example to me.
One of the benefits we've enjoyed from being his friend is that on the 4th of July we get an all access pass to a well-manicured private golf course. We relax. We let the kids run as fast and (almost) as far as they want. It's refreshing and beautiful.
While all the well-to-do rich folk are enjoying perfectly grilled filet mignon and salmon on the deck of the clubhouse, we're lounging about on the back nine, sipping sweet tea and chewing on the Colonel's extra crispy fried chicken, in our own private Eden.
It's a tradition I hope we keep for many years to come.