You have an apartment. It is not large but at least it fits a 5-10 people small group. You want to invite Christians or seekers to your place to know more about Jesus. Now what’s next?
- Room cleaning: honor your guests, not impress them.
Sometimes we go to two extremes:
1) we make our room too fancy to show our hospitality, but actually what we want to show is how clean&neat we are, our artistic tastes, or our newly purchased stuff etc;
2) we do not respect our guests enough by serving them in a messy room.
I would say a proper way is to make sure there is enough space for people to sit, and a certain level of cleanness that they don’t have to do laundry after sitting on your coach. But do not be too obsessed about making your room so pretty that everyone keeps talking about it instead of the Bible.
- Snacks or not?
Unless it is a potluck or dinner gathering, I would not suggest the hosts to spend too much time and money on snacks or drinks. I have been to amazing and uplifting meetings which only offer water, and also meetings where the snacks are the only thing I remember. Again like #1, we don’t want to make the meeting centered by things other than Jesus. Also it makes it hard for the next host, who might want to compete with your snacks.
- The Discussion: people love to be heard!
No matter this meeting has an invited speaker or not, you always want to have some discussion. There are many advantages for having a discussion. I would say the #1 reason is that people love to be heard. Usually they like to go back to the places again where their stories and thoughts can be listened to, rather than places where they have to sit and listen to some big guys talking for 1 hour. This is true even to the most shy and introvert people.
However, how to make everyone talk? You can firstly setup a scenario that everyone has to share something. What Rachel and I usually do is to start with ourselves and go around the table. Another great way is to use some tools like “Heart Mirror”, which is just a bunch of random photos:
You firstly have a theme, say “describe your current situation in the US”. Then ask each of the guests to pick 1-2 photos which best represent their current situation. Then they take turns to share.
What these photos look like is not important. They are just to be there to help everyone to start with. Once they start talking, you will find it hard to stop them 🙂
Therefore we should also time each one to make sure that everyone can have a few minutes to talk.
Finishing on time is important. Although everyone is not doing very well on this. Finishing on time makes sure that people want to come back next time. Otherwise they may say:”It says 6-8pm, but it may go to 9:30pm and I have an exam two days later. I might skip.” If you keep your meetings finish sharp at a certain time, people will instead say:”I know it will finish surely by 8pm, so I can plan my other things accordingly.“