Welcoming new people
Part 1: How to talk to someone new at Church
Have you ever walked into a group of people you didn’t know well? Did you feel horrible and weird and awkward? Have you ever been in a group and seen a new person walk in? Did you think, “I should probably talk to her, but it’s just too hard”?
You’re not alone. Being welcoming is really hard. But it’s really important. If we call ourselves Christians, then we believe that we are made in God’s image. Even more, we are imitators of him as his children.
But guess what? God is the ultimate welcoming God! He welcomed sinners – people who were poles apart from him – by sending Jesus. He welcomed prostitutes, tax collectors, children and women, the lowest rungs of society. He welcomes everyone who accepts his grace.
If we’re children of God and if what he says makes a difference in our lives, we are going to be welcoming people.
Yes, it’s risky. But risk can be fun. You might prefer to jump out of an aeroplane before you would speak to a new person. But think about the rush you might get if you actually did get out there and talk to someone.
And quite frankly, how would you feel if you were the new person? Wouldn’t you want someone to come over and talk to you?
To become welcoming, we need courage. And we need skills. Here are some simple tips to welcoming people effectively in our own groups. If you already do these things, share them with your friends!
Problem: I’m too shy.
Find a ‘welcoming buddy’ and make it your plan to talk to someone new every week together. Take a deep breath and put yourself in the new person’s shoes. Meditate on the Bible passages which talk about God taking away our fear. Pray that God will put just one person in your way to talk to. (He will.)
Problem: I’m too busy organising things or just seeing my friends.
Use the phone during the week. Arrange to catch up with your friends later. Or see welcoming as something you can do together with your friends.
Problem: Welcoming is not my job.
Test out this theory: the person in the position of power is always looked at to take the first step. At church, it means the members are the ones who have to take the initiative. New people feel uncomfortable starting a conversation. So guess what - you have to!
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