Hospitality — The Glue of Groups

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I believe God is a God of hospitality, as He invites each one of us into His family and welcomes us at His table. Romans 12:11-13 reads “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Coffee Break is also a ministry of hospitality. We are sometimes blessed with participants from our neighborhood, communities, and churches. As we welcome new individuals into our Coffee Break groups, we can extend hospitality to them in a few different ways.

1.  Pray together as leaders:  Pray that God will bring women to your group who want to know about Jesus

  • Pray for those who are seeking, that they might come and meet Jesus.
  • Pray for relationships to develop (for your leaders and members) with those who are far from God.
  • Pray for the hearts of members to be open to those who are seeking.
  • Pray for all women to grow in their relationship with Jesus.
  • Pray for the women who do come, for their struggles and concerns.

2.  Welcome with open hearts: Leaders and others need to be intentional about welcoming the stranger, and embracing those who are on the fringes of Coffee Break. Encourage all women to meet and greet new members.

3.  Simplify Commitments: Invite and encourage participation in ways that will not make anyone feel threatened. Think of creative ways to make payment for books optional. Taking turns to bring a snack may be intimidating for some while others will love the opportunity. Make it optional.

4.  Avoid Christianese:  What words or phrases do you use, in leading or in prayer, that others might not understand? Listen to your leaders with ‘visitor’s ears’; what would they find strange or unfamiliar. Do you make assumptions that others understand what you’re talking about?

5.  Invite Participation: During group discussion, be sure to give women a chance to share what they are thinking. Encourage them to share what they are learning, what was new for them, where they see God at work or what don’t they understand. Often, they love to share prayer requests.

6.  Invite them to Pray: I recently asked a group of newcomers to take the opportunity to pray in a circle.  Each one was invited to thank God for something, or to ask Him for something, or to say sorry (which was the focus of our lesson.) I also gave them the opportunity to pass. I was deeply moved to notice that each woman prayed, many were sorry for something, and many were weepy as we finished our prayer.  

7.  Tell Them You Love Them: Recently my co-leader mentioned to me that she believed our women truly feel loved when they come to Coffee Break; she observed that I often tell the group how much I love being with them. Many women live lonely lives, or have endured hurtful experiences. Let them know that someone cares about them. And remind them of God’s love for them too!

When we implement some are all of these things in our groups, we are able to practice hospitality and keep our members sticking together while discovering the Word.

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Participant

This is great!  One more note that goes with #7:  Not only do we tell them that we love them, but we also ask them if they want hugs. Many of our women are older and are living alone. They mention often that Coffee Break is one of the only places they feel a hug each week, and it keeps them coming back.  Of course, we need to be sensitive, and always ask first. 

Thanks Diane!  I agree whole-heartedly!  For those who live alone (or those who are in challenging relationships), we can give the gift of touch.  And it's a great suggestion to ask first.  Thanks for that reminder!