Small Group Photo

 
 

Embracing Hospitality

February 2006, the first time I walked into a room full of women gathered to study God’s word together – not only with a bible but along with a book!  The book, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren – would begin a remarkable transformation of my faith life.  Although, I only stayed with that first group for three years, recognizing the blessing of coming together on a weekly basis, now, in a very unlikely role, I am the host!

Family Clean vs Company Clean

Although initially overwhelmed at the idea of hosting or even leading a group, the blessing it had been in my life was too great to let the fear keep me from providing this opportunity to others. The first real issue – the family vs company clean status of my home on any given day.  My busy schedule and self confessed laziness made the idea of having a spotless home every week – daunting to say the least.  Then came my fear of not knowing enough to be ‘in charge’, and lastly, what if no one wanted to come or I wasn’t able to maintain a friendly environment.  Sadly, I had seen friendships strained when faith belief’s collide.  All valid concerns but none insurmountable.    

A quickly learned, true friends are cool with family clean (as long as they are not sticking to floor or furniture, and you’ve wiped down the bathroom things are cool), they weren’t coming to see what I knew but to grow in relationship with Christ, and lastly, all you can do is treat people with love and respect. Over the years as I have held small group book / bible studies at the parish, other people’s homes and yes, even in my own dining room!  While there may arise a difference here and there, we’ve managed to avoid fist-a-cuffs, so I can safely say all my fears have been completely unfounded! 

Stack of Books

 
 

So let me share my top 5 confidence boosters that I hope will inspire you to invite friends and soon to be friends to encounter God and a life of faith in a whole new way!!

  1. Begin with prayer – both personally when planning and at the start of each gathering!
  2. Trust the Holy Spirit to be the true facilitator!!  He is the one that will help you know who to invite, which books to select and how to keep the conversation flowing and on point.
  3. Be attentive to the faces of the women sitting before you. Some women will have no trouble sharing – but others will come week after week and never say a word. Be sure you never put anyone on the spot to talk, however be sure you make eye contact throughout the night to acknowledge you know they are there. After the meeting, if there is a particularly quiet participant, it might be a sweet gesture to send an email letting them know how glad you are they are there.  Everyone regardless of how they choose to participate is a blessing and an integral part of the group!
  4. Keep the conversation balanced. The opposite of the introverted non-sharer is the well intending sometimes verbose participant.   These ladies usually have some amazing points, so you don’t want to discourage their sharing either but there needs to be a balance – this can be the hardest task for a facilitator but with a little prayer and lot of practice it becomes like breathing!! No really!
  5. Don’t be afraid of silence. Time to contemplate during your gathering is a GOOD thing!!  Don’t feel you need to fill all the empty spaces – and encourage the others to do the same.  Everyone processes information differently, some people need more time to gather their thoughts to answer than others.

BONUS  TIP

Guess What.  You DO NOT need to know all the answers!!  If you need to look something up – do it.  If you need to check with your Pastor and get back to the group – do it!   A facilitator is not a teacher – while you may have skills in that area, it is not necessary.  As Joshua says, DO not be afraid, be bold and courageous, and as Nike says, Just Do It!  
 

 

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We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. 
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