Like any Christian organization or church, there is a sense of familiarity which comes from “belonging”. By that I mean there are elements that we come to expect in worship; there are things we do to make ourselves feel comfortable – including those we involve within our “circles”. You know what I mean – those with whom we share those familiarities with. We have history. We have commonality…but what about the outsider?
What do I mean by “outsider” you may ask?
Consider these questions:
Does this person go to my corps?
Am I familiar with them?
Do I even know the first thing about them?
Have I taken the time to get to know them, let alone include them in my circle?
If the answer to any of those questions is – “no”, then perhaps that person is an outsider and your group/corps is not as inclusive as you once thought.
Why Be Inclusive To Outsiders?
Now say that question above ^^ out-loud
-That question is about as dumb as asking the following questions:
Why be nice to people?
Why walk that old lady cross the street?
Why help the poor?
It’s pretty obvious isn’t it?
We were never created to be a “members only” social club.
An outpouring of our faith is works, and those works include helping the poor and welcoming outsiders into our groups within our corps and Christian social circles.
To help us become more conscious of our inclusion of “outsiders”, here are 4 ways to include others. Obviously there are many more ways, but perhaps this is a primer of sorts in an effort to help us oil the cogs of our brains.
4 Ways To Include Outsiders:
1. Be Intentional:
Go out of your way to welcome new comers into your small group, corps, youth group, bible study class etc. Remember it takes more courage, strength and intelligence to be welcoming than it does to maintain a fickle group or clique. Take extra effort to get to know the new member or visitor, even if they are different from you and your friends. When we make it a point to be welcoming and inclusive of others, we begin to bring to mind the feelings and fears of these visitors in our midst, and in so doing, we stop viewing them as outsiders altogether.
2. Be Mindful Of Insider Jokes, and social tendencies that tend to exclude:
New comers in your midst will not understand your “inside” jokes or even “catch phrases” you might use within your circle. Keep these things in mind as you begin to integrate these new comers into your groups. Newcomers have a learning curve already as they settle into this new environment, so help them by limiting your insider interactions which will alienate them and make them feel as if they do not belong. Also, our “army” jargon may be a part of this. Keep this in mind as you help them acclimate to this new place, and perhaps explain things to them in a way they will understand.
3. Become a student of other people:
Study new comers. This requires us to give special attention to them, their mannerisms and personalities. When we take the time and effort to study people, we will become more in tune with what may help them become a part of the group. Assimilation is never easy, but we can help them decide whether we are worth them investing themselves in our corps and/or group.
Remember, welcoming new comers doesn’t stop at shaking their hand at the beginning of the service – no, perhaps invite them to sit with you, don’t point them to a chair that seems like the “outsider’s section”.
4. Flip The Script:
Pretend for a second that you are the outsider looking in.
Would you understand some of the terminology that we use in The Salvation Army? Would you comprehend what a DC, YPSM, LOM, CO or CSM means? Take a moment and pretend that you are an alien and that you know nothing about church, let alone The Salvation Army. How would you feel as you experience this army scene for the first time? Would you feel intimidated by the sea of blue or the words we use? Can you honestly say “I feel at home here?” Don’t get me wrong, I imagine there are places one might feel welcome in our corps and other “Army” places, but it helps to flip the script and imagine what might be going through a visitor’s mind as they experience the army for the first time.
New comers will pick up on the cliques and the groups of friends. They will immediately recognize if you are being genuine or providing a faux-friendliness. If we want others to come join our army, we have to be a warm sunny day, not a frigid mid-winter.
- Colossians 3:11 In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.
Questions To Ponder:
Am I intentionally making newcomers feel welcome?
Are there cliques that I belong to that prohibit outsiders either intentionally or unintentionally?
If so, how can I/we change that?
Do I need to flip the script so I can relate to outsiders?
Do I even want to welcome newcomers?
If not why do I feel this way?
Am I comfortable with newcomers?
How can I become a better student of people and help them acclimate to this “Army” environment?
- Hebrews 13: 1 Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
So How About it?!
Am I overthinking this topic or do you think this is an issue in the Army?
You tell me! I would love to hear from you! Please join the conversation and tell us your opinions & comments!
Something more for the Army world to ponder today!
To God be the glory!