By Seth Brown, Adult Connection Pastor
A couple of months ago I wrote about Faith Bible Church being a welcoming people, and I love the fact that we are striving toward that end as a congregation. In fact, in the last year we have had plenty of opportunities to be hospitable as around 285 families and individuals have visit our church! Wow!
And, as people continue to visit Faith Bible, many of our Adult Bible Fellowships (ABFs) are also seeing more visitors. As this is the case, there must necessarily be a culture of hospitality church-wide and not just in our corporate gathering. But because of the size of our church and ABFs, the awkwardness of meeting new people, and the fact that many ABFs are very tight knit, hospitality is often challenging for us.
So what do we do? How do we get better in this area of our ABFs? To begin, here are five simple ways our ABFs can show hospitality to visitors:
5. Be in your ABF room on time – visitors will be!
The simple truth is that some of our ABFs begin later than their designated times. While this is typically not a big deal, we must remember that the only information visitors have about ABF times is found in the ABF Guide and on the church website. If folks read an ABF begins at a certain time, they are going to show up accordingly.
What opening impression do we want to make on visitors? Being on time and ready to welcome visitors will make a wonderful impression and will give your ABF instant credibility with those who are trying to find a group that fits them.
4. Keep an intentional eye out for people visiting!
For you folks who have the gift of hospitality – it is always your time to shine! Every ABF should have someone that takes the time to personally greet and introduce themselves (and spouse if married) to visitors.
Some people are just naturally gifted at this aspect of hospitality – they need to use their gifts!
3. SURVIVE AND ADVANCE PAST THE FIRST TWO MINUTES OF CONVERSATION WITH A VISITOR!
When we meet new people, we will have stuff to talk about for roughly 2 minutes: jobs, families, kids, history with the church, if they are new to the area, where they moved from, and the area of town they are living.
But what about after those first two minutes? This is where it gets tough. You may have to ask even more questions, find commonalities, and develop a rapport quickly. If nothing else, simply begin introducing visitors to other ABF members. This sets the tone for their experience, and it ensures that the awkwardness of being in a room full of strangers quickly dissipates. Visitors will appreciate it more than you know.
2. Give visitors an opportunity to tell the ABF “a little bit about themselves”. As they are leaving, tell them thanks for coming!
ABF leaders should give visitors a minute or so to introduce themselves to the group. People generally are okay with this opportunity, and it also gives ABF members a chance to see what shared interests, jobs, or experiences they have with those visiting.
Likewise, at the end of the ABF time, not every group member has to say goodbye to visitors. But if NO ONE does, then what might that communicate to them?
1. Have an ABF member follow up with visitors with a hand-written note within a week.
Lastly, make sure your “outreach” is also welcoming. A simple hand-written mailed note thanking them for coming to your ABF will go a LONG WAY in making folks feel comfortable. Plus, people really appreciate small gestures of kindness and love.
In conclusion, whether we call it hospitality, friendliness, or simply living out the Gospel through our interactions with visitors, our ABFs must be intentional about loving new people well. God calls His people to be hospitable, and it is our responsibility within ABFs to show the utmost love, kindness, and hospitality to those who are new to our body!