Newcomers and regulars alike should feel welcome, accepted and significant when they come to an InterVarsity meeting. We need to affirm that they belong at this meeting.
This can happen when we are warm, relaxed, friendly, and caring. Christ in us sets this atmosphere for the meeting and brings us together expectant that the Holy Spirit works when we are brought together.
Here are some things you can do to initiate with and respond to people at your meetings.
Before the meeting:
a. A team of greeters should be assigned to each meeting. This can be the executive committee, small group leaders, the outreach team, others.
b. Greet people at the door, or near the entrance, with a smile and words of welcome. Be sincere!
c. A sign outside the door -“Welcome to InterVarsity” – will help visitors feel comfortable entering a strange room.
d. A name tag table will help you identify visitors, and let them know you want to get to know them. If everyone is wearing a name tag, they will feel a part of the group and will be encouraged to get acquainted. (some chapters use permanent name tags for regulars and new ones for visitors.)
During the meeting:
a. The emcee should begin the meeting with a welcome to newcomers and regulars with a statement of what to expect.
b. Periodically, get-acquainted activities can be useful in helping regular members have interaction with newcomers. Use activities that will not cause embarrassment to visitors. Use activities that will provide for meaningful interaction, rather than nonsensical games which give an illusion of socializing, but not much getting acquainted.
c. Every part of the meeting should have the newcomer in mind. Avoid singing without providing words or music, avoid in-house jokes, jargon, and abbreviations. This makes the newcomers feel like outsiders.
After the meeting:
a. Providing refreshments can be a helpful way to encourage people to stay around after the meeting and get further acquainted.
b. Avoid cliquishness such as talking only with close friends after the meeting, or carrying out business discussions with other leaders. This is the prime time to make newcomers feel welcome and accepted.
c. Someone should be responsible for getting a record of information on visitors. This will communicate that you value their involvement.
d. Consider what personal connection can be made with the newcomer during the next few days. You might want to develop a team that makes visiits to newcomers, answering questions they have and informing them of ways they can participate in the chapter.