Small Group Leaders. We are some of the most hospitable people you'll ever meet! We open our homes on a regular basis and know how to make people feel welcome. One of the most admirable qualities that we as small group leaders have is that we make our group members feel right at home. Group members come in, know they have "refrigerator rights," know where to find a spoon or a cup and they know their way to the rest room. Our group members know which chair they find most comfortable and which one to avoid. When we as hosts are busy putting the finishing touches on a meal they feel free to answer our door bell and help friends with their coats. In fact, most understand that on C2 nights the door bell is optional and the door is unlocked. While this ability to place people at ease is one of our greatest assets, it can also be a liability if we are not careful.
Open arms to new people is so important and in our churches we want our groups to be open groups - a culture of welcoming new people. Hopefully all of us as group leaders are welcoming new people on a regular basis. This is where we need to be diligent in our hospitality practices. While the majority of group members know how things work and where things are in your home, new people need to be given instruction. Some of these are "no brainers" and may seem obvious, but when our group friends feel like family we can get a bit too relaxed.
Here are a few tips to help everyone feel comfortable:
1. Always make it a point to have introductions when a new person comes in. Go around the group so everyone can tell their name and something about themselves - something to "hang a memory" on. For instance, "We're Bill and Mary and we just returned from a vacation to the Grand Canyon," or "I'm Susan and by profession, I am a teacher," or "I'm Jacob and my favorite sport is baseball."
2. Before offering a prayer of thanks for the meal, give some basic instructions...where to find napkins and silverware, what beverages are available, seating instructions, the flow of the serving line, where the desserts are served, etc...
3. Make sure the rest room(s) are sparkling clean.
4. Put more than one hand towel out in the rest room. Make sure they are fresh and clean. A good option can also be to put out a box of the disposable hand towels made by Kleenex or even a roll of paper towel. Make sure the trash can is empty at the beginning of the evening.
5. Make sure the soap is plentiful and extra rolls of toilet tissue are easy to find.
Walk through your home looking with fresh eyes. It is easy to become so "at home" that we do not see issues that a first time guest may have.
Appointing one or two other people in your group to help with hospitality can also be helpful.
Thank you for opening your hands, your hearts and your homes. You serve a vital role in the church and the Kingdom of God.
About the Author
Dawn Stuemke is a staff pastor at Calvary Temple Christian Center in Springfield, Illinois, overseeing connection, assimilation, and adult education. She studied at Central Bible College and Global University, and is currently in the process of becoming a certified life coach.