Someone asked me for my notes about the welcoming seminars I ran at church last week. The first 10 minutes was introducing two concepts - the idea of having a 'people filter' in our heads, and the four spaces of relationships (search on friendship in the topics on this blog to find out more about these).
'The People Filter'
Sometimes I go out by myself to a meeting or a function while my husband stays home with our children. When I get home, his first question is often: “Who was there?” Sometimes my answer is: “Oh, no-one really.”
Why do I say this?
What I mean is, no-one was there who was relevant or interesting to me. I’m very good at dismissing most of the world’s population because they didn’t make it through my people filter.
When we talk about welcoming others, the first thing we need to admit to ourselves is that we have a ‘people filter’.
It’s hard to admit that most of the time it’s switched on for the people relevant to us, and OFF for the people who are newcomers or strangers or different.
We did this for 20 minutes or so, writing down our answers on the board.
Do we really want our church to grow?
What are the risks we take?
What do we lose?
What do we gain?
Why do we welcome? (versus why should we welcome?)
Who are they?
Why do they come?
What do they want?
What do they expect?
How well do I know myself?
What am I scared of?
What am I capable of?
How do I come across?
What do I fear?
What do I lose? What do I gain?
Why do I welcome?
What is his character?
What can he give us?
We then went on to identify problems that we faced when talking to new people or making ourselves known. After that we worked on some solutions for each problem. One very interesting that come up a lot was that some people were less interested in the problems they faced, and more interested in problems that other people have, or the building or circumstances present. I had to work hard to keep the focus on us and what we can do.