Our last community group someone invited a neighborhood couple to come and participate. It wasn’t their first time in the house: they came to a potluck community group dinner two weeks before. This was my dream come true: visitors feeling welcome in a community group setting, even before they come (or even think about coming) to church.
Our group did a good job of making them feel welcome during our hang out time beforehand. So the first concern would they feel welcome? was answered. But what about the common objection would their presence make the group less intimate? That could only be answered through the actual experience of in depth, personally interactive bible study.
Well, we had our most in depth, honest, intimate, repentant study so far! People were actually confessing their own idols at the end of our time. I can’t tell you what they are (besides mine being Respect from others) due to our Las Vegas style community group confidentiality clause-what is said in comm group, stays in comm group. Even one of the visitors actually joined in confession.
When visitors from the outside see an honest struggling person who has the freedom to express/confess, they will eventually express that “God is really among you!” (I Cor 14:25). It need not make the group less honest, provided the environment already is an honest environment. At the very least, visitors will see that Christians, or at least Christians from this church are not as weird as seen on TV (either through TBN or sitcoms) . At the most, they may someday confess that God really is at work here.