I remember my first time here. I had heard of Humanists, but apart from a brief Wikipedia search, I didn’t really know what you were. I looked you up online, checked out the website and thought this place might be a good fit for me. I also saw that there would be yellow mugs after platform. I thought that was a great idea. Use the coffee mug to broadcast to everyone, “I’m new, come up and talk to me!”
Platform was really awesome; Jim Seko gave a talk about the environment and climate change. I joined the Visitor’s Open House after, and then came the chance to grab a yellow mug and bask in the welcoming glow of all of you. Except there weren’t any yellow mugs. Membership committee has since corrected the mug situation. I still grabbed my coffee and inserted myself into a few conversations and had a great experience. I came back and found a home and a family in you.
Unfortunately, not all visitors have the same experience that I had, nor are they willing to step into a group where they don’t know anyone.
I think there are two things that work against us to be the great ambassadors of the society that I know we all can be.
First, it’s knowing what to say.
I want us all to think about why it is we come here week after week. What is it about this place that does that to us? For some it’s Platform. Incredible music, educational/inspiring/thought-provoking topics. Maybe it’s the SEEK program. My late wife was catholic and I’m an atheist. We struggled with how to raise our kids, and I know this would have been the perfect place for them. Exposing kids to everything that’s out there and then pairing that with activities and discussions to lead them to be critical thinkers and productive members of our community.
For still others, there are opportunities for service and socializing, activism and artistic expression. Once you know what it is that draws you here, you’ll have no problem having a conversation with someone you haven’t met.
The second issue is starting that conversation.
Sundays after platform may be the only time you get to see some of your friends all week. We all cherish those interactions, and I wouldn’t ever want to take that away from you. So, let’s talk about some ways we can incorporate someone new into your conversation?
Well, you have to be willing to let them in. If you see someone hovering nearby, make eye contact, smile, and turn your body towards them to invite them in. Those little things can make the difference, and I think it’s something any of us can do.
If you can go even further by taking your conversation to them, then we’re really making people feel welcome. Introduce yourself and find out why they’re here today. Talk about the things that keep bringing you back and the ways that you’re involved here. Maybe they mention interest in something you’re not involved in, but you know someone that is. Walk them over and hand off the conversation.
Don’t feel obligated to stand and talk for 30 minutes. It’s ok to have a short conversation and move on. Finish with something like, “I’m so glad you came today, and I hope to see you next week.”
If you love being a part of this family, then make sure you’re sharing that feeling with everyone you see. It all start with “Hello.”
Thanks for listening.