Every visionary group leader is thrilled when a new member attends the group meeting for the first time. The group leader envisions how the new group member will positively affect the group and how the group will impact that new group member. The elation that is experienced by the group leader often comes to an abrupt end when the first-time group member is there a few weeks, but then stops attending.
In order for a new group member to remain with the group, it’s important that we understand the three types of tentative new group members and respond to their needs accordingly.
Type 1: The Hesitant Hellion.
The Hesitant Hellion may be a believer or not. This person was most likely invited by a group member and is still (maybe proudly) involved in sinful activities. They’ve come to check out the group and see if they will be welcomed just as they are. If a group leader realizes or suspects a Hesitant Hellion has shown up, the leader should be sure to speak of his own struggle with sin (and if willing, a specific sin). Thank the group for not judging and state gratefulness for a group where everyone is growing, but none have arrived at perfection yet.
Type 2: The Overzealous Extrovert.
The Overzealous Extrovert owns the room. From the very first engagement with the group this person feels at home and is looking for an opportunity not just to be in the group, but to be heard by the group. Be certain to engage them in the Bible study conversation as soon as possible.
Type 3: The “Underzealous” Introvert.
The “Underzealous” Introvert is simply a person who feels uncomfortable with new people. Before the meeting, after the meeting, and during snack times, be certain you or someone else is conversing with them. They will often feel uncomfortable when others are carrying on a conversation and they are standing alone. If they feel uncomfortable they may not return to the group. Also, during the conversational Bible study, allow them to enter the conversation at their own pace.
Rick Howerton has one passion — to see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is pursuing this passion as the small group and discipleship specialist at Lifeway Church Resources.