“I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
— Matthew 25:35.
Many of you will be starting a Lenten Bible study soon, and if you are helping with hospitality, you may already be thinking about ice-breakers and coffee pots. You’ll be greeting newcomers with a smile, handing out name tags, and possibly providing refreshments (for those who aren’t fasting!)
But as you know, hospitality is more than meeting the physical requirements of being a hostess or host. It’s about being Christ to others. Creating a warm and friendly environment is one of the most important elements in your study.
You may think that your role is insignificant because you’re standing behind a table, or picking up cookies at the store. It certainly can be time-consuming, but through your gift of serving others, and giving of yourself, there comes a joy that cannot be measured. As a member of the Bible study team, you stand in Christ’s place. As Mother Teresa put it, he wants to “shine on others” through you.
Set the Mood
For some participants, this may be their first experience, they may even be a little intimidated by the thought of Bible study. The welcoming tone you set will ease any concerns participants may have.
For example, you could start with the atmosphere. Is everything clean and neat? How is the temperature? Is there a focal point in the room where you could place a candle or icon?
Having coffee and tea available fifteen minutes early often helps people feel welcome. Greeters can make others feel comfortable by asking a question, engaging in friendly conversation, or joining them at the table.
Break Bread Together
Depending on the length of your study, plan one or more special gatherings, such as a potluck or picnic, to help build relationships. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Sharing a meal facilitates the building of new friendships and strengthens old ones.
Consider having a celebration at the end of your study to thank God for the blessings and friendships that have formed as a result of your time together.
Get Creative and Colorful
Some groups get creative with hospitality, like dressing up in The Bible Timeline colors, offering color-coded snacks and seeing if participants can arrange colors in order. Maybe your group does something like that.
The point is, that the spirit of hospitality should be a hallmark of all our parish programs, and especially for Bible study. People come to learn, but they also come to be a part of something. Whether (and to what extent) they feel welcome will have a big impact on their participation.
How do you know when your hospitality is working?
You will see smiles and hear laughter as the groups finish for the day. Participants will leave committed to putting the Word of God into action and will be eager to return the following week. They might even volunteer to help you!
How do you create hospitality in your Bible study below? Let us know in the comments!