Whether it's our own hesitations or the sense we get from some in our group, there are several reasons why we might lean toward keeping our group just the way it is, not wanting to invite others to join us. Here are 3 common myths about adding new people to a group:
1. We're super tight.
Creating great friendships is something we aim for in our Community Groups - and celebrate! Our group is where we can really get to know a handful of people outside of the large crowd on Sunday morning. However, when we lose the vision of the Great Commission (making more and better disciples), our focus moves inward and we take on an attitude of "use four and no more" or "we seven go to Heaven".
Here's what the statistical analysis from the book Big Impacts showed: "Open groups (groups that welcome new members at any time) actually experienced significantly more community than closed groups (groups that don't welcome new members once the "group year" has begun). When we asked people questions such as how close they feel to others in their group, how much fun they have together, and how much support they provide one another in their personal needs and struggles, people in open groups actually report highter levels of closeness and caring than individuals in closed groups." Why? "We now realize that not including new people actually produced a self-centered attitude that made groups unhealthy."
This is huge. When we add new people our group members feel even more connected to each other. Maybe this is because as Christians we were all designed to serve others. Jesus reminds us in Mark 10:45 that He did not come to be served, but to serve.
2. We've got a great rhythm.
We have a tendency to get comfortable with the patterns and rhythms within our group. We come to expect certain things to be a certain way, and we settle in for another week of what now seems natural to us. We know who makes the best (or worst) dessert, where to sit, and we've got our own collection of inside jokes. A new group member won't know the jokes, will throw off the routine, and maybe even sit in so-and-so's spot. If this sounds a bit like your group, it may be helpful to remember that a group once made room for me, and our goal should be to allow everyone to experience Biblical community.
3. Hello... Confidentiality?!
We regard confidentiality as a non-negotiable. Things shared in the group need to stay in the group, always. Groups can unravel quickly by loose lips. For some of us, it can be downright scary to think about opening up about that issue if someone new is in the room. One way to maintain an atmosphere of safety and confidentiality while welcoming new group members is to briefly review your Group Agreement anytime someone new joins your group. Be sure to ask if everyone agrees on the confidentiality piece, and watch for nods throughout the room. This will help reassure current group members, and set the expectation for the new member.