Home group is an essential part of the transitions to helping grow people toward spiritual parenting. They can meet just about anywhere, like a home, or church, or park, however there are many situations in which distractions can hinder openness and spiritual growth. There are more possibilities for groups to meet than most people might think, but there are some guidelines that will prevent growth. Consider these five principles:
The physical arrangement should be conducive to good eye contact
Any room that allows people to sit in a circle or rectangle can work, although the circle is the best. A forest setting would not work very well if there are trees in the line of sight, nor would walls, planters, or other furniture that hinder good eye contact. Even a flower arrangement on a coffee table, while beautiful, might block the group’s view of each other. We speak with our eyes, which are also the windows to our souls. People need to see each other in order to establish trust and communication. Additionally consider how close or far apart people are sitting. You don’t want people to feel like they are talking across a football field. If they are sitting in rows it’s much more difficult to see each other.
Lighting should be sufficient so that people can see each other and read
Some homes are very bright, while other homes are purposely dim. The key is people need to be able to see each other and older people need more light than younger people. Also, there must be sufficient light so people can read their Bibles or notes without squinting. Brighter environments often assist with a more cheerful atmosphere.
Temperature should be comfortable enough for people not to perspire or shiver
In American culture, people have grown accustomed to be comfortable. Whether winter or summer, the host must provide conditions that are moderate. There is certainly a range, which is likely between 68 – 72 degrees in which most people can be comfortable. Beyond those limits, you may start losing people who do not want to put up with the environment, regardless of how much they like the study. However, a noisy air conditioning system can cause older people to have trouble hearing.
The environment should consider allergies
Many people love dogs and cats, but there are some who are allergic, whether or not they like them. Pets are wonderful for those who like them, but for those who puff up, get the runny nose and scratchy eyes, the allergy is uncomfortable and irritating. If the allergy is too strong, some will not be able to attend that home group, because the dander is present in the furniture and carpet. But even those who are not allergic may not like pets jumping up on their lap, or pants and they often don’t care for the wet nose kisses! It’s just good courtesy to avoid pets in the meeting room, even if you live on a farm and everyone else has pets.
Home groups will need to decide as a group regarding children
Children can be entertaining to guests, but one that is roaming will be often distracting, especially if he is whining or seeking attention. Yet, some groups with young families may welcome children. We have two groups that have children. One group has a dozen children who play downstairs with a babysitter and the children one and under are up with the parents. The families know the children will be there, be a distraction, etc., but the environment works well for them. Another group has older children and there are just a few, so they go off and play in other rooms. Once in a while the host family or parent responsible goes back to reorient the children and they continue.
The physical arrangements of a home group are very important, but flexibility is key and will attract couples that adjust to what is there or they will find a home group that is more conducive to their view and needs.