It’s probably not your goal to make your guests feel uncomfortable, but it happens. Sometimes you, the group leader, might be responsible. Sometimes your group members are responsible. Members of Bible study groups must work together to ensure that guests feel welcome and comfortable. Here are three ways that groups inadvertently make guests feel awkward:
- Ask a guest to read out loud. Don’t assume that a guest can locate a particular verse of Scripture, and don’t assume they’ll know how to pronounce the often difficult-t0-say names of people and places found in Scripture. If a guest feels awkward in front of his or her peers, they probably will choose not to come back.
- Ask a guest to pray. One of the big fears people have is speaking in public. In fact, it’s at the top of mosts lists of fears that people have! Many people are not comfortable praying out loud in public. For them, prayer is a private practice between them and God.
- Ignore a guest. If people from your group don’t engage in conversation with your guests, you run the risk of your group being labeled as “unfriendly” by the guest. This has happened to my wife and I as we’ve visited churches and Bible study groups. It was not uncommon for us to sit in a group of 20-30 people and have no one engage us in conversation.
- Forget to call the guest by name. This is one reason why I ask my group members to wear stick-on name tags every time our group meets for Bible study. We do it for a couple of reasons, but the primary one is that we do it for our guests (so that we can call them by name). It’s great to look at a guest and say directly to them, “John and Rachel, we are so glad you came to our group’s Bible study today.” People love the sound of their name, and failing to call guests by name because you’ve forgotten it won’t convince them to come back to your group.
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