Sunday, March 02, 2008

Welcoming Newcomers

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my efforts at Fitting In.

Now I'm working on an article featuring advice to people in groups who want to be more welcoming. Would you think about a time when you were a newcomer--into a new church, club, or small group?

What were big or small efforts that people made that helped you feel welcome and comfortable?

What about things that were done that you wouldn't recommend--what made you feel unwelcome or uncomfortable?

You can share in the comments--either as yourself or anonymously--or you can email me using the link on my sidebar. I won't be using your name or quoting sources directly. I'm just looking for ideas.



heather said...

Here's my opinion, and of course, it's just my opinion--greeters at the door to help you figure out where to go are a good thing. However, having people sign-up to be official greeters has to be done carefully because in so many churches I've been to, you're only greeted by the official greeters, which feels artificial. The church needs to understand that it's everyone's job. So if having people sign-up to be greeters creates an ambiance of their-job-not-mine, than the church needs to eliminate that role.
Also, I hate nametags. People feel like they don't really have to get to know you or your name.

Dianne said...

If everyone were encouraged to just reach out and make one person feel welcome each week, what a difference that would make. Instead, it's usually relegated to a handful of greeters. Maybe rotating the greeters would help get more people involved. And maybe outside greeters as well as inside greeters. But too much forced atmosphere comes across as just that, as Heather said, artificial.

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

That's interesting about nametags, because here in my new situation in my adult group at church, I wish we did have nametags! In fact, the class is pretty large and somewhat sporadic (there are some who attend only once a month or less), so not only do I not know everyone's names, we have noticed that the others don't know everyone either, and at some point, they are too embarrassed to ask.

Because we don't, when three of us were chatting before class, one of them made a point to get our two names--so that's a good point.

Is it more offensive for them not to know your name or to ask 3 or 4 times until they do get it?? (assuming that they are just asking your name, not acting like it's the first time they've seen you--I hate that).

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

As a newcomer, I appreciate it when people remember my name, initiate a conversation with me, invite me (or the family) out for a meal or over for a meal. In general, make an effort to include me in the group.

Wani said...

I've been reading Professionalizing Motherhood by Jill Savage. She talks about how when we're in the workplace we have our co-workers to talk to and as SAHMs we have to seek out other moms who are our "co-workers" now. One thing I myself have tried to do lately is not be afraid to invite other moms over even if its just for a lunch of peanut butter and jelly!
Here is a post of mine that kind of goes along with what you've been talking about.

Carrie said...

I'm with stephanie -- I appreciate it very much when someone makes an effort to involve me with the group. Shaking hands and introducing themselves is nice to start but making me feel like I'm WANTED among them is very cozy and homey. I love being invited in on the activities and/or out to a meal or coffee, etc. I'll take anything offered!

Katrina said...

When we first started going to our current church, we immediately began attending an "Adult Bible Fellowship" (aka, Sunday School class) for couples/parents in their 20's and 30's. After our 2nd week there, we got a call from a couple in the class, inviting us out to dinner with them and several other couples. At least one of the couples as also fairly new to the class, and the other couples had been there for a while. It was a great way to get to know people in a casual setting (we ended up taking over the restaurant's outdoor patio) and to feel welcomed. While we never got very close to any of those initial couples, we still appreciated the effort to reach out, the opportunity to get to know more than just the names of a few other people in the class.