Before you start - if you don't have time to read this - scroll down to find the audio version)
Have you ever walked into a room, scanned it quickly, and realised you know … no-one?
For the evangelist, this is pure gold. So many people to talk to and find out where their faith is at. For the gregarious, who loves an audience or to be amongst the life of the party, what a dream!
For most, that sense of feeling lost and unknown can be daunting. This requires additional emotional energy and sometimes takes the shine off the experience you’ve come to attend.
When families are new to a location, they can often experience this ‘I know no-one’ feeling everywhere they go. When parents are new to parenting, again, this can be a regular experience. How can we reduce the energy required to assimilate into this new space?
One team ensures they have a welcomer. This person is alerted, and after registration, takes the newcomer to meet others. On the way, they explain what will happen during the morning, where the bathrooms are located, and finds something out about the family. By introducing the family to others, the newcomer ‘lands’ or at least can start to relax. Then during morning tea, the welcomer also checks in again. During the week, the family is sent a TXT or email, reinforcing they are welcome and how the team are looking forward to their return.
As the weeks pass, newcomers become assimilated into the group through introductions to others who have similar interests or children of the same age. The group they’ve just joined becomes a friendly and engaging place with all on team making it a priority to talk to families, regardless of whether they’re new or almost part of the furniture.
What else helps families to be needed and known?
Knowing the names of the adults and children is significant. We aren’t all blessed with memories that link name and face; nametags can assist. Being satisfied to know a handful of people well is a great goal.
Noticing detail when families arrive or while chatting becomes a way to make them feel known. While we know that loving on a child extends to loving on their parent, it’s also important to acknowledge the parent or carer in some way so they don’t feel like a spare wheel.
When there’s an offer of baking (“I’d love to bring a plate of brownies next week”), say YES! Someone offering this indicates they have a sense of belonging.
During the week
Hospitality in your home is like the gold star level of people feeling known. Inviting them home after a session for soup and bread or toasted sandwiches is all that’s required. It’s the sharing of time, the engagement around the table, and the rich conversation that follows; that’s what they’ll enjoy. Your house doesn’t have to appear like a designer home ready for sale – it’s warmth will be in the invitation.
Do you sometimes wonder what to talk about during a conversation?
Many times, the weather, the age of children, the place you live are the common starters. Here are some other ideas.
- What achievement are you most proud of?
- If you had to live elsewhere, where would it be?
- What does your name mean?
- What’s a life event that shaped who you are today?
- What story do you want your life ultimately to tell?
- If you're talking with a parent ... How strict were your parents? (Then ask a follow up question!)
Go even deeper
- What disappointments do you have?
- How are you going, personally?
- What’s a dream you have for the future?
- If you could change one aspect of your life, what would it be?