Not only is this the fifth part of the Front Door Hospitality series for students and college ministers (click here to see the whole series), it’s also the weekly Fridea… an example (or two, in this case) of practical ideas for college ministries. Enjoy.
One way to begin building community with new folks – and the old folks you haven’t seen recently – is to “engineer” a second encounter as soon as possible. At large group meeting, then, it means making sure to re-engage somebody you met before the meeting again at the end. As the weeks go by, of course, it means reconnecting with visitors you’d met in the past.
In fact, I’d probably argue that it’s more important to have multiple interactions with a few people (especially the ones that you might have “clicked” with best) than simply to meet as many people as possible.
This strategy increases the likelihood of name recognition for them (especially if you’re wearing a nametag), and the better sorts of connections that lead to true community. But it is indeed a strategy, at least in part; while God Himself may allow you encounter some students a lot more than others (He’s smart like that), you can also be very purposeful about identifying students you’ve met before, reintroducing yourself, and carrying the conversation further.
Of course, this all means we’d better really pay attention when we meet people the first time. But if we’re too cool, too fast-moving, too hyper for that… well then, how much are we really aiming for true Hospitality anyway?
Another way to build community – and practice true Hospitality at our campus ministry’s Front Door – is to work overtime to remember.
Facebook is the #1 tool here. (No, it’s not stalking.) And even simple rehearsal, along with asking fellow “hosts” for help remembering, can go along way.
As we learn names, gain lists, get people in Facebook groups, and so on, we need to take actual steps to remember people’s names, as well as other conversations we’ve had with them. It may just mean thinking through who I’ve met tonight at Large Group, as I head back to the dorm or to the house. Certainly it sometimes means asking a friend, “What’s that guy’s name again?” If you’re a college minister (or small group leader), it may mean taking a group picture… for the simple reason of being able to rehearse names, majors, hometowns, and other important-to-them details through the week.
This isn’t “fake.” Nor is it creepy. It’s not hypocritical, either, as though the only way to be “real” would be to magically remember everything naturally. It’s Hospitality. If we only lean on our own memories and our own gregarious personalities and refuse to put in work here, then what kinds of Hosts are we, really?
Come up with clever memory aids, jot down notes, or do whatever you need to do. But true Hosts will study up.