Have you ever walked into a room, scanned it quickly, and realised you know … no-one?
For the evangelist, this is pure gold. So many people to talk to and find out where their faith is at. For the gregarious, who loves an audience or to be amongst the life of the party, what a dream!
For most, that sense of feeling lost and unknown can be daunting. This requires additional emotional energy and sometimes the shine off the experience you’ve come to attend.
When whānau are new to a location, they can often experience this ‘I know no-one’ feeling everywhere they go. When mātua are new to parenting, again, this can be a regular experience. How can we reduce the energy required to assimilate into this new space?
A mainly Ministries’ partner has a team member who is the welcomer. This person is alerted, and after registration, takes the newcomer to meet others. On the way, they explain what will happen during the morning, where the bathrooms are located, and gets to know whānau members. By introducing matua to others, the newcomer ‘lands’ or at least can start to relax. Then during kai time, the welcomer also checks in again. During the week, whānau is sent a TXT or email, reinforcing they are welcome and how the team are looking forward to their return.
As the weeks pass, newcomers become assimilated into the group through introductions to others who have similar interests or tamariki of the same age. The group they’ve just joined becomes a friendly and engaging place with all on team making it a priority to talk to whānau, regardless of whether they’re new or almost part of the furniture.
What else helps whānau to be needed and known?
Knowing the names of the adults and tamariki is significant. We aren’t all blessed with memories that link name and face; nametags can assist. Being satisfied to know a handful of people well is a great goal.
Noticing detail when whānau arrive or while chatting becomes a way to make them feel known. While we know that loving on their tamaiti extends to loving on their matua, it’s also important to acknowledge the adult in some way so they don’t feel like an extra.
When someone offers to bake (“I’d love to bring a plate of brownies next week”), say YES! This indicates a sense of belonging.
During the week
Hospitality in your whare is like the gold star level of people feeling known. Inviting people home for kai, like soup and bread or toasted sandwiches is all that’s required. It’s the sharing of time, the engagement around the table, and the rich conversation that follows; that’s what they’ll enjoy. Your whare doesn’t have to appear like a designer version, ready for sale – it’s warmth will be in the invitation.
Do you sometimes wonder what to talk about during a conversation?
Many times, the weather, the age of tamariki, the place you live are the common starters. Here are some other ideas.
- What achievement are you most proud of?
- If you had to live elsewhere, where would it be?
- What does your name mean?
- What’s a life event that shaped who you are today?
- What story do you want your life ultimately to tell?
- If you're talking with a parent ... How strict were your parents? (Then ask a follow up question!)
Go even deeper
- What disappointments do you have?
- How are you going, personally?
- What’s a dream you have for the future?
- If you could change one aspect of your life, what would it be?