It’s a new school year. Everyone’s back in the rhythm of classes, quizzes, and more. And your ACF chapter has started to connect, figuring out your regular meeting time and place.
What’s one thing that can make or break your community? What you say. Yup, that’s all it takes, sometimes. Here’s a quick scenario:
Jen, the new girl, walks into the classroom where your Bible studies are held. She’s shy.
Christian, the Junior who’s been involved since Freshman year, sees Jen and says, “Hello”. He also asks, “How are you?” and waits for an answer. When all she says is, “Fine,” Josephine (who’s been paying attention from a distance, comes over and asks Jen where she’s from. She doesn’t remember Jen from last year and figures she’s new. Josephine knows that Christian isn’t very comfortable in new situations so she’s also helping him out. Christian doesn’t run off; he stays right there and continues engaging with Jen and Josephine.
Jen quickly feels as if both Christian and Jen are honestly interested in who she is and she opens up a bit more. Her body language also shifts to a more open posture. She’s still shy but now she’s actually smiling instead of looking a bit afraid. As the evening continues, Christian and Josephine make sure to swap numbers with Jen and invite her to the next meeting. They also add her to their chapter’s Facebook group, and GroupMe chat. Chances are really high that Jen will return next week.
Other important details include the following:
Josephine is one of the student leaders and when Jen walked in, Josephine stopped the prep work she was doing to pay attention. She was leading out in the Bible study that night and wasn’t totally finished prep but remembered that it’s better to focus on relationships in that moment. Christian was swapping inside jokes with a friend when Jen walked in and all he wanted to do that night was hangout with his buddy–the jokes were refreshing and reminded him of how well they clicked. But Christian also realized that he could talk with his buddy anytime. So he excused himself, recited “I can do this” a million times, and walked over to Jen. When he was about a foot away, he prayed, “Jesus, help me,” then stretched out his hand.
It often takes a lot of intentionality to welcome others into our community and that’s okay. Keep trying and don’t be afraid to try new things like saying more than “Hello”!
What new things would you like to try this school year so that your ACF community is healthy?
These periodic posts serve to encourage and challenge ACF students in their college journey. Unless otherwise noted, they’re written by Michaela Lawrence Jeffery, ACF director for Georgia-Cumberland Conference.