By Jay Fennell

I can recall a time when my wife and I were visiting Sunday School classes in a church. We were newlyweds and had recently moved to Texas from South Carolina to attend seminary. We were lonely and homesick. We had no connections, no friends, and no church home, and we desperately needed a place to belong. We visited a few classes for young couples and didn’t feel a connection. The classes we visited were friendly, but we quickly learned that they weren’t interested in being our friend, and you can tell the difference. They had room in the classroom for us but not much room in their hearts. Frustrated, we prayed that God would provide us a Christian community with which we could grow in our faith and serve the church. We were looking for a family!
God answered our prayer and led us to visit a new group for young marrieds. As we approached the room, we immediately noticed lively interaction. The couples were connecting relationally and were genuinely enjoying one another. As we walked in the door, we were immediately greeted warmly by a couple who introduced themselves and thanked us for coming. They were wearing nametags, so that made it easier to remember people because it put a face to a name. We were introduced to other couples, all wearing nametags. The people of the group were sincerely grateful we were there. By the end of the morning, we knew we had found the group where we wanted to invest, grow and serve.
The first minute of our visit was so crucial. This group had one minute to make a good first impression, and they passed with flying colors because they cared enough to acknowledge us when we walked in the door. Their most hospitable and bubbly people were placed at the door to welcome everyone, members and guests alike. But they gave special attention to guests and made sure that we were warmly welcomed and made to feel important. They didn’t neglect the people that God had brought to their group.
How good are you at warmly welcoming each person every time you gather for LIFE Group? Your group’s success at retaining guests might be determined by your intentionality in warmly welcoming newcomers. I cannot stress how important that is and encourage you to ensure that each person is greeted and welcomed each time you gather. It meant a lot to me and my wife, and I know it means a lot to others, as well.