Many of us know the terror of walking into a Small Group setting, where everybody seems to know everybody, but nobody knows us. We walk in, we search for a place to sit, usually in the place that nobody else wants to sit, and we wonder what to do next.
Many Small Groups think they’re friendly—when they’re only friendly to their members. They never look at their class, or their classroom through visitors’ eyes. They don’t expect new people, enjoy new people, plan for new people, organize for new people, or organize their room for new people.
The room should be set up for guests: with drinks and snacks, open chairs, and name tags (for everybody in the class!). There should be a fellowship area where people can stand, and talk, and greet new people. There should be extra Bibles, in the translation the teacher uses, and extra quarterlies so the guests can follow along.
A clean room is important. Cookie crumbs, cake crumbs, and smells from last week’s pizza party are a turn-off to guests. A room that looks good is important too. Peeling paint, tattered and stained carpet, old and ill-matching tables and chairs communicate a powerful message. Old and worn-out Bibles and quarterlies communicate a message as well.
Class members make the greatest impression on guests. But classrooms make an impression too. We should determine what we want to communicate. And, as best we can, we should arrange our classrooms to communicate that message.
Fred Creason is the Leadership Strategist at the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention.