You Are Not a Mistake

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some low moments when I’ve doubted my worth. Psalm 139 tells me clearly that God’s thoughts toward me are precious, so I know that the voice that begs me to think little of myself should be ignored. This video is a beautiful illustration of this psalm.

So thankful that I serve a powerful God that LOVES me. And you know what? HE LOVES YOU, TOO!

Leading a Small Group Bible Study: Greet People at the Door

Leading a Small Group Bible Study: Greet People at the Door

Back in my single days, I taught a single adult Bible study class made up of men and women of all ages that enjoyed digging into and discussing Scripture with me every week. I learned a lot about leading a small group Bible study and shared some of what I learned via a blog I created dedicated to the subject. This post is a refresh of a post that appeared on that blog.

Have you ever noticed that if you say hi to someone first, they’ll usually say hi back?  It’s just a matter of making the first move.  And I have to say that I love for people to say hi to me.  It makes me feel like they noticed me and thought that I was significant enough to acknowledge.

We want to make sure that every person that attends our small group Bible studies feels noticed and significant. 

The best way to do this is to designate at least one person as a greeter. It’s nice to think that the entire room will welcome each person that walks in with heartfelt hellos, but the truth is that people get caught up in conversations and don’t want to be pulled away. And that’s ok, because isn’t that part of the reason that we attend small group studies? Designated greeters allow people to focus on catching up while also ensuring that new arrivals get the attention they deserve.

Now let’s look at the details.

Who?
Anyone can be a greeter, as long as they have an attitude to help.  One of the first things that I ever did to help in a Sunday School class was server as a greeter, and I’m not exactly a social butterfly or belle of the ball.  As a matter of fact, I’ve noticed that many groups look for extroverts to serve as greeters, but I think that can be a mistake. As an introvert, I sometimes feel like backing away when welcomed by an overly enthusiastic greeter at the door of a church or small group, so there may be people that appreciate a calm hello from a more introverted greeter.

The bottom line is that, whether introverted or extroverted, anyone can serve as a greeter as long as they have an attitude of helpfulness and are willing to work at doing their best in this very important role.

When?

Greeters should be ready to receive people at least 15 minutes before the official group start time.  It’s important to keep in mind that visitors usually show up early because they’re trying to give themselves enough time to find their way. I once showed up at a Toastmasters meeting (that I was visiting for the first time) around ten minutes before it started, and I was the first person there besides the guy setting up. I felt awkward and in the way, which is the opposite of how we want our guests to feel. We want visitors to feel welcome and as if we were waiting for them.

Where?
This depends on the type of small group. If your small group meets at the church, the greeters should stand outside the classroom door.  This way they see everyone walking down the hallway and can help along those that are a little shy to come in.  I even had a greeter once that noticed visitors wandering the halls looking lost and encouraged them to come join us in class.  Now that’s a good greeter!

Many churches like to have home groups because they feel it’s a more intimate environment than meeting in a church building. And that’s true for established groups. But visitors may feel awkward going to someone’s home for the first time, especially if they don’t know anyone in the group yet. It somehow feels like an invasion of personal space. For that reason, it’s especially important that greeters welcome new attendees to a home-based group and help them feel at home. For that reason, the greeter should remain close enough to the door to hear a knock or to notice people coming in.

How?

  1. Greeters should smile, say hi, and look the person in the eye.  People want to feel like they’ve been seen, especially in church or a Bible study setting.
  2. If your group distributes an announcement sheet or other handout, you may want to give those to the greeter to give out as people enter.
  3. If meeting in a home, greeters should make sure that first-time attendees know where the restroom is and direct them to the refreshments.
  4. Greeters may want to introduce first-time attendees to at least one regular attender that has agreed to make visitors feel welcome.  For this reason, you may want to have two designated greeters so that the door is always manned if one of the greeters steps away.
  5. There may be a few minutes between people showing up, giving the greeters a chance to chat.  It’s great to catch up with someone that we may have not seen all week, but the greeters shouldn’t be so lost in their conversation that they’re not paying attention to people walking in.
  6. Greeters should stay at the door for at least the five minutes after the official start time of the group to welcome late arrivals.  If you structure your group time to give announcements before the lesson, this shouldn’t be a problem.
  7. Although many visitors arrive early, some arrive really late.  So the greeters should be ready to jump up and welcome into the group any really late arrivals, making sure they have the handouts and a place to sit.

The point is to make people feel like they are welcomed and wanted.

Do you have any tips for ways to greet group members?

That’s My King!

Man oh man, my love for this sermon excerpt is deep and enduring. It gets me fired up every. single. time.

Jesus. You’re indescribable.

Leading a Small Group Bible Study: Build a List of People to Invite and Call Them

Leading a Small Group Bible Study: Build a List of People to Invite and Call Them

Back in my single days, I taught a Sunday morning single adult Bible study group for about three years. The number of people that attended each Sunday varied – one Sunday I sat knee-to-knee with one attendee, but during the last year I taught the class I had Sundays with close to 20 people (which is too big for a small group, by the way). My responsibilities included building up attendance to the class, as well as preparing lessons and teaching to the best of my ability no matter how many people attended.

While it is true that you should put just as much heart into leading an itty bitty group as you would a large group, your responsibility to grow your group is often easier said than done.

The first thing you’ll need is a list of prospective group members, along with their phone numbers. People to put on your List include:

  • Your friends and acquaintances. These may include life-long friends, playgroup buddies, neighbors, co-workers, people you met at church, that nice lady that a friend introduced you to. Include both believers in Christ and those that don’t yet know Jesus. You never know what work God is doing in a person’s heart.
  • A list of church members and past visitors. If your small group is part of a ministry within your church (like the Women’s Ministry), this shouldn’t be a problem. Try to get as narrow a list as possible. For example, if your study is for single women, try to get a list with only single women. Just don’t let your single guy friends get a hold of it. 😉
  • Referrals from friends and acquaintances. Ask everyone you talk to if they know of anyone that may be interested in joining your group, or at least visiting. If they say yes, get the name and phone number of the person being referred. But ask your friend/acquaintance to get permission for you to call them, and be sure to follow-up. The person being referred will be more likely to come if you get permission to call them yourself and extend an invitation.

Now you have your List. You may be tempted to send out an email blast or to use online social networking tools (like Facebook, Twitter, Meetup, etc.) to extend invitations, but nothing beats true social interaction. Call the people on your List and extend a personal invitation to join your group.

Before calling, be sure to have the following information on hand:

  • The location of your next meeting and simple directions.
  • Child care information, if child care is provided.

Now you’re ready to start making calls!

  1. Pick a time to call the people on your List.  I usually made calls during my lunch hour, but it may be helpful to know a few things:
    • Many seniors are home during the day and would welcome a phone call and conversation.
    • Single professionals will most likely be at work during the day, so the best time to reach them may be in the evening.
    • Mothers with small children may be home during the day, but not have much time to talk. Keep it short and sweet because trying to have a lengthy phone conversation while your kids are screaming in your ear is no fun.
  2. When you’re ready to dial, smile!  The smile will come across in your voice.
  3. Follow a “script” for how you’ll begin the call.  Nothing too salesman-like, but nothing over-familiar either.  Here’s a possible script:  “Hi, my name is Jane Doe and I’m with the XYZ Bible study group.  So-and-so told me that you might be interested in joining us, so I thought I’d call to tell you about our next meeting.  Do you have a minute?”
  4. After introducing yourself and stating the reason for your call, you may get one of the following reactions:
    • Irritation and a hangup.  (Yes, I have had a hangup.) This shouldn’t happen if you received permission to call, but you never know.
    • A polite “No, thank you.”
    • An expression of interest.
  5. Don’t get your feelings hurt if someone hangs up on you or if they’re not interested.  You fulfilled your responsibility by reaching out to them.
  6. If they do express interest, give them details about your group and ask them if they would like to come to the next meeting. And don’t forget to ask them if they know if anyone else that might be interested.
  7. Offer to answer any questions they may have.  If you don’t know the answer, tell them that you’ll get the answer for them.  And then follow-up.
  8. If you feel comfortable in doing so, give them your contact information so that they can call back or email with additional questions.
  9. Keep the tone conversational and friendly. Try not to sound bored, even if it’s the 758th call you’ve made that day.

If the prospective group member agrees to visit your group, great!  But be aware that they may still not come.  Again, don’t get your feelings hurt.  That’s just how it goes sometimes.  For those that do come – be ready to make a new friend!

The Secret to Getting Things Done When You’re a SAHM

The Secret to Getting Things Done When You’re a SAHM

Last night I was going to write a post about how my family has become too kid-centric. But, in an ironic turn of events, my youngest woke up before I finished the post and derailed my plans.

It was sometime past two in the morning (that’s 2AM! aaagh!) before I got him back to sleep. I ended up sleeping in his room on a mattress topper on the floor. The mattress topper is there to break his fall from his toddler bed as he gets used to sleeping in it, but it works for mommy or daddy when Cruz is having a tough night. It’s kind of like camping indoors, without the s’mores.

I woke up a few hours later with Garrett kneeling next to me in his suit and stroking my hair. He was about to leave for work and wanted to make sure I knew it was time to get the kids up and ready to take Michael to preschool. He leaned down to kiss me goodbye, which was quite the sacrifice on his part since I was sporting morning breath and a grumpy attitude.

I ended up in the preschool drop-off lane wearing jeans, an unflattering hoodie that I don’t think I’ve ever worn out of the house, and a cardigan/sweater type thing that didn’t really go with the outfit (and I’m using the term “outfit” very loosely here). I was too tired to deal with contacts, so I kept my glasses on. Makeup consisted of a little bit of concealer and lipgloss that I put on in the car. And I don’t recall if I brushed my hair.

It’s shocking how one night of poor sleep can bring out my inner homeless person.

I dropped off Michael, went through the Starbucks drive-thru for my second cup of coffee, and brought Cruz home to play while I sulked on the couch. Interestingly, Cruz was in high spirits after what felt like a sleepless night.

I took a break from sulking to study Proverbs 31:10-31 again. As I sat on the couch wearing a questionable top and running my fingers through my unbrushed hair, I concluded that the “excellent wife” is a classy lady in every way.

Was God trying to tell me something?

Soon after that epiphany, I came across this post on Anne’s blog where there’s an interesting conversation about how the effort you put into your appearance can affect how you tackle your day.

Well-played, God. Well-played.

I took the hint and did something about my appearance before picking up Michael from preschool.

Dressed1

I threw on a green T-shirt, khaki blazer, and infinity scarf that I received from one of my sisters for Christmas. I love this scarf because I can wear it a few different ways and it dresses up a plain shirt. This picture suffers from too much lighting, but in it you can see that I looped the scarf around twice and pulled one loop down to disguise my unfortunate mommy belly. Anybody wanna give me $20,000 to get that belly taken care of? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

Dressed2

I also tried the scarf looped around three times. I love the look (despite the frizz), but decided to go with two loops today.

Dressed3

This is where I channeled my inner teenager and did one of those overhead self-portraits. I felt pretty silly. But it’s definitely better than looking down at the camera. Things like sagging necks disappear.

After getting dressed, I did my makeup and brushed out my hair. I didn’t have time to do my whole beauty routine, but you know what? I felt better. Happier. More confident. More energetic. Imagine that.

But that’s not all. Even though I was still so very tired, I managed to get a lot done today. I cleaned up a lot of Christmas clutter, put a bunch of stuff away, folded two massive loads of laundry, and even played games with Michael while Cruz napped.

People, I don’t usually get that much done on a day when I’m well-rested.

Getting dressed in a leaving-the-house outfit, putting on makeup, and doing something with my hair made me feel like I was getting ready for more than washing dishes and changing diapers. So I did more than washing dishes and changing diapers.

And that’s my new secret for getting things done.

Linking up with Dear Abby Leigh, Create Hope Inspire, and The Pleated Poppy.

Why I’m Memorizing a Passage About an Impossibly Perfect Woman

Why I’m Memorizing a Passage About an Impossibly Perfect Woman

In a fit of New Year’s resolve, I may have mentioned that I want to develop the spiritual habit of Scripture memorization in 2013. Darn it, I’ve committed myself.

I’ve chosen to memorize the passage about the excellent wife (Proverbs 31:10-31) for the 2013 Siesta Scripture Memory Team, one verse at a time. It plays into my whole Year of Purpose plan because I need some ideas for being more purposeful in my family life. I could continue with my current method of allowing Netflix, Hulu, and our children’s current developmental stage to dictate my days, but somehow I think I can do better.

My plan is to spend two weeks meditating and journaling about each verse, as well as digging in and doing a little studying. I’ll just have to see where the Spirit leads.

When I first thought about using Proverbs 31 to be more purposeful in my family life, I wondered how I would handle specifics like “She looks for wool and flax” and she gives “portions to her maidens.” Even though that last excerpt tempted me to make a case for household help, I suspected that I would instead distill each portion of the passage down to basic principles rather than make myself a slave to the description of a well-to-do woman that lived in a very different time and very different culture.

Right around that time I came across this blog post that clued me in to  the spirit of the passage in general. In it,  Mrs. Evans tells us that Proverbs 31:10-31 resembles a poem describing the feats of a warrior. Consequently, the excellent wife is actually best described and translated as a “woman of valor.”

Mrs. Evans further elaborates that the phrase “woman of valor” describes any woman that blesses her family by using her energy and creativity. In other words, you are a woman of valor if you use the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has given you to bless your family. Consequently, your expression of the woman of valor is unique.

It’s at this point that I part ways with Mrs. Evans on our views of Proverbs 31:10-31. While I am thrilled to understand that the expression of a woman of valor is not limited to the activities listed in this passage, I cannot view the heroic poem of a woman of valor as mere literature. It still serves as a guideline (at the very least) for ways to be valorous as wives.

This is where my plan to meditate on Proverbs 31:10-31 comes in. Since every portion of Scripture is “inspired by God and profitable for teaching”, I’m praying that the Holy Spirit will use this passage to teach me new ways to live purposely, as well as show me what I’m already doing in the spirit of the woman of valor.

Do you think there’s any chance that my expertise with Netflix will play a vital role in my attempts at becoming a woman of valor? Maybe just a little? How about my ability to navigate my Hulu queue? Wait, don’t tell me. Let it be a surprise…

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