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April, May, June, July…the time of year for women’s retreats, Mother’s Day teas, and other activities that draw newcomers to your events. You’re familiar with the term “designated driver.” I want to invite you to become a “DESIGNATED ENGAGER.” Let me tell you why…
The need for a designated engager
For several years, I was active in women’s ministry at my church. When I attended an event, I knew just about every woman there. I usually had responsibilities at the event and/or hung out with my friends so I didn’t really notice the newcomers very much. I assumed they would jump into the mix and connect on their own. But then, I became the newcomer! It was a vastly different and eye-opening experience…
As I walked into our new church for the entire first year, all I saw was a sea of faces—none of whom I knew. It was a lonely and isolating feeling because they seemed to know each other. When we were visiting various small groups to consider joining one, once again I was the outsider walking into a room of women who knew each other well but who were all strangers to me. I remember one particular occasion when the other women greeted me then gathered in their group to catch up on each other’s lives. Only one woman sat at the table and talked with me, letting me know that she cared I was there. I was so appreciative of her. Though we were not drawn to join that group, I wanted a connection with the one who intentionally made me feel wanted. We had lunch together several times. That felt so good to know someone who wanted to know me.
Now, I have a greater appreciation for how the newcomer feels when she responds to the invitation to attend a summer women’s Bible study. She comes because she desperately wants to make friends. She wants to know and be known. She may be new to the area, new to the church, looking for a church, or just seeking something spiritual but not sure what. The first summer study I attended at our new church, I came early to help women find their name tags—so I could put a name to a face, too. When I sat at the table, I wrote in my study guide the names of the other women at my table and jotted down whatever they said about themselves. I hoped I would see them again before my memory forgot what they looked like. I sat at a different table every week to meet different women. I desperately wanted to know who some of those faces were that I saw on Sundays. And, it worked.
What makes a newcomer feel welcome
During that same summer study, a few women intentionally engaged me when I attended. They noticed me and remembered my name. That made me feel wanted and included. They probably didn’t consider themselves “Designated Engagers,” but by their actions that is what they were. And, I am so grateful for them. Their warmth and interest made me want to come back. And, I attended the next summer’s Bible study as an unofficial “designated engager” to help any newcomers feel wanted and included. In a sense, I now “turn my radar on” when I walk into a room where newcomers might be present.
So, I am inviting you to be the “Designated Engager” for your spring tea, women’s retreat, or summer Bible study. And, recruit others to join you. How fun can that be for several of you to do this together! Help a newcomer feel wanted and included!
Learn how to make women feel welcome
“Turn your radar on” through designated engagers preparation for the women in your small group or church ministry.