It is a new school year and with this comes sharp pencils, clean backpacks, a homeschool Mom’s dream of a perfect year and – new Little Flower, Blue Knight and Hospitality Meetings!
It is for this reason that I just love September (and not just because it is my birthday month)!
And with new meetings will come new members. With this in mind, we wanted to share an email we got from a Mom looking for a Little Flowers group in her area:
“….We tried a group last year and we were very disappointed. First, my daughter sat at a table by herself and no girls invited her to sit with them. Second, the other moms were not welcoming. Lastly, there was no emphasis on helping others in need. I want to learn more about your group and how it works. Thank you for your time.”
Their first attempt for friendship was NOT at a LF group and it showed in how they were treated. It is important for us to take her sadness to heart and work to ensure that everyone feels welcome at our meetings – everyone -each and every daughter, mother, son and father.
Our welcoming spirit needs to come not only from the virtues of friendliness and hospitality but simple Love of Neighbor! If we were to ask Jesus, “who is my neighbor?”, He would surely remind us of the story of the Good Samaritan as He did in Luke 10:25-37.
“25 There was a scholar of the law[b] who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” 27 He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”
Providentially, today happens to be the feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta who we all know as Mother Teresa. If ever we had a role model for welcoming all as if we were welcoming Jesus; it would be her: “I see God in every human being.”
We realize that not everyone is comfortable or as outgoing as others so how do we create a welcoming meeting? Here are just a few ideas on how to make this happen:
-Make sure everyone knows everyone’s name. Seems simple, but from week to week, we can all forget the names of people we have just met or see infrequently. During the first few weeks of meetings, include ice breakers that make use of name repetition. Check out Ice Breaker Name Games
-Consider creating a welcome team of girls with an adult. They could be the ones who greet people at the door, making sure to greet people by name. Throughout the meeting, these members would be asked to keep an eye out for anyone sitting alone or off to the edges. This could be a rotating team so everyone has a chance to shine.
-When choosing teams or partners keep an eye out for closed cliches. While our members will certainly have favorite friends, be careful that these don’t turn into ‘queen bees and wannabees’ or ‘top dog’. You can draw names out of a hat, have members with the same birthday month, same # of letters in their names become partners or teams. In other words, there any number of ways to pair kids up or make teams without having the members do it themselves which can often lead to exclusion of newer members.
Also, don’t be harsh on yourself if you realize exclusion has been a struggle in the past. Today’s first reading let us know that even Paul struggled with this:
“While there is jealousy and rivalry among you, are you not of the flesh, and walking according to the manner of man? Whenever someone says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely men?” 1 Cor. 3:1-9
The tone of our meetings must always be the conclusion of Paul’s exhortation: “For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
Christ prayed for more workers in the vineyard, more laborers for the harvest. Let us remember that as we welcome new members and new families to our gardens; each one becomes a fresh worker for the harvest, a new co-workers in God’s field.
And, please, please share any ideas that have worked with your group!