Remember that time when you walked into an unfamiliar setting? Lot’s of people were already there, scattered around in noisy, chatty clusters. They obviously knew one another. They had history, something in common.
And they were completely oblivious to you… the new girl, the new guy.
Your heart thumped a little harder, your mouth became dry. You scanned for a familiar face, but didn’t recognize anyone. Your palms grew clammy. You became self-conscious. “Just act natural,” you repeated in your head.
You were beginning feel like the poster child for awkward when mercifully, like an angel from heaven, someone approached you with a smile, extended a hand and said, “Hi, I’m Bob. I don’t think we’ve met.”
Before you knew it, Bob had introduced you to another person or two. You were settling into a group conversation, relaxing, and you realized that what had seemed like an awkward hour, was really about 23 seconds.
“Thank you Jesus,” for the Bobs of the world.
At the church Dawn and I began attending last fall, Bob is named Roger. Roger made sure we were noticed and warmly welcomed over several Sundays by as many people as he could, which is a pretty good chunk of this small church.
But what about the rest of the church — those average people who are comfortably settled in their chatty clusters? How will we meet them?
Here’s 6 easy ways any Average Us can meet people and fit in to a new church, employer, club, neighborhood smoothly:
1. Leverage your Bob.
The first way is super simple. Just ask your Bob to introduce you to “that guy over there,” or “the person who knows about _____.” He or she will be happy to connect you with other people.
2. Volunteer for something small and short term.
Dawn and I volunteered to help decorate the church for Christmas. It took half a Saturday of time, but we walked away knowing Mike, Sandie, Mae Lee, and several teenagers, not to mention the coffee and goodies.
3. Visit a small group.
It’s much easier to meet people in small groups than in large crowds. People in a crowd tend to huddle with people they know, and the new guy can feel like he’s navigating between the pods. But in small groups people are intentionally more open, welcoming and inviting. If the group you visit feels like a fit, you can join. If not, visit another group.
Dawn and I visited our Bob’s group and quickly got to know Susan, Andy, Sara, Jim, Angela, Phil, Ruth, Matt, and Mindi. It was a fit for us, so we stayed.
4. Meet the person whose job is to meet you.
In an office, that’s an admin or HR rep. And in a neighborhood, there’s often someone who takes it upon themselves to meet new people and connect them. In a church, that’s the greeter at the door. I met Willie at the door this Sunday. (Admit it, you wish you knew someone named Willie, too.) A few extra minutes invested in getting to know the Willies in your new surroundings can really help you get acclimated fast.
5. Reintroduce yourself.
We all forget names. It’s okay. Just re-introduce yourself, “Hello again, how are you? I’m sorry I forgot your name already…” They will forgive you. (And they probably forgot your name, too.)
I re-introduced myself to Dwight and discovered that he enjoys wood-working like me. More conversations will come via that bridge.
6. Be the Bob.
Now there’s a thought! Why not intentionally decide to meet people just because? Okay, so this one may not be easy, but it is valuable. People who connect other people have important roles and are sought after leaders. And what better way to fit in than to serve informally like Bob?
All you have to do is decide that people are interesting enough to know them by name, and then be willing to expend a little emotional energy going outside yourself to meet them.
We all have the same need to be accepted. We all want to belong. And in the gospel — the good news that God accepts us in Christ — our need for acceptance is fully met. Our unfailing hope is that we belong to Him. But, the gospel about our acceptance in Christ, also empowers us to embrace others in Christ’s name.
Being confident that you are accepted, give a few of these ways to meet people a try.
Question: Can you share another easy way to meet new people?
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