Written by: Ed Grable
One thing I find surprising is hearing that people don't feel connected at our church. Now my view can be a little skewed because I am very social, so much so that my wife calls me a social tridactyl. She says I attack people in social situations. Sadly she is probably right. I hate to see that lonely person in a room full of people. However, one of the coaches on the Life Group Team helped me see that I need to be more sensitive to those introverts in our faith family. Someone like me might make them feel uncomfortable and could have the opposite effect than what I intend. So I need your help. I want to challenge those of you who are a little more introverted than I am to connect with these people when you see them. You see, if you make an effort, you do two things. You help someone feel welcome, and you also can help them navigate through the many hurdles an introvert may face in a big church like ours.
Mark Hallock, in an article on connecting, gives us three simple ways for people to feel connected in any church, no matter the size. First, we must stay after church and look for someone who looks lost or alone. Take the initiative to start a conversation with a stranger and if you are afraid to do it alone; take a friend. You might be surprised by how eager someone is to have someone say hello. Hillock's second suggestion is to join a group. Surprise, the Life Group guy likes this one. In my opinion, groups are the best way for people to feel connected, but it does not always work. If you are in a group and don't feel connected, let us know and we will get you into another group. If you are not in a group yet and feel disconnected, please reach out so we can get you in a group.
The third and final suggestion from the article is that we should offer hospitality and receive it when it is presented to us. So often, we choose not to engage when someone says hello or offers a handshake. But this can be a great opportunity to connect in a way that is inviting. If we want to build a culture of hospitality, we need to be intentional about how we connect to the people we worship with each week. A couple of weeks ago, Emily Bingley made a great suggestion on how to use hospitality in a way to get people connected. She suggested that we give people personal invites to events or serving opportunities. Like: "I am going to _____; here is the link_____" or "I am serving in the cafe; will you serve with me?" Knowing that a familiar face will be there can be all it takes to get someone to get plugged in and connected.
Now, these are just three simple things each of us can do to make Gateway Church a place where people feel like they belong. If you hear someone say they do not feel connected here, take time to have a conversation with them. You can also let the Life Group Team know so we can help do our part. Let us build a culture where everyone feels welcome and connected.