Small Groups (or Home Groups) are likely the best place to help a Christian grow through the spiritual stages of life. There are many important roles, including leading the discussion, follow-up, and hosting that people traversing spiritual growth can practice. Hosting is important, because it sets the stage for the relational environment to develop and assist people to be real and transparent. What is a host supposed to do? There are several things to consider, but each host may have his/her ideas on how best to make people comfortable enough to become genuine.
First, prepare the meeting room. The meeting room can be the living room, den, open basement (as long as it is not dark, dank, or dreary). Some people like couches and others like stiff chairs. The key is to think what would make things comfortable for the people to gather, relax and grow. Ensure that toys are picked up so no one trips or slips. Vacuum within the last week, so people are not picking up allergies and the room looks somewhat neat and clean. Set the temperature so people are not shivering nor melting in the heat.
Secondly, provide a simple snack and drink. The key is “simple.” The host should not seek after elaborate snacks, unless it is a special treat once in a while. The issue and emphasis is not on the snack, but on the relationships and spiritual growth. The snack however, does allow people to relax and talk easier. The drink should be simple, like water, lemonade and/or coffee. If the snack is elaborate, then other people will feel like that is the standard that they must achieve if they would ever desire to serve as a host.
Thirdly, greet people who come to the home group. The host is the main greeter, but this can be given to another person, especially if there are last minute issues to cover or children to be attended to prior to the meeting. Those who attend should hear their name and a welcome, so they know they will be accepted in the home group, which is often not the case in the rest of the world.
Fourthly, greet people as they go. The host needs to see people off at the door, so people sense upon their departure that their presence was a blessing and another visit will be welcomed in the future. Walk people to the door rather than letting them see themselves out. Walking someone to the door is a way to honor their presence and declares you are glad they were there. The further you go as someone leaves, the more you are saying how much you appreciated their fellowship.
Fifthly, call those who were not able to make it to the meeting. It is important that someone (either you or someone in the group) make the call to those who were not at the meeting to let them know they were missed and provide any updates on events that may happen in the future. It does not need to be a long call at all, just a call to let people know they were missed and you look forward to seeing them next time.
These are a few of the important principles for hosting a small group. Although some people do not care what the environment is, it can make a huge difference for others in their sense of what a “relational environment” is. Share the hosting so many different people can have the privilege of hosting “messengers from the Lord.”