There they sit. New people in your small group. It's like the elephant in the room. A little chit chat and banter before, the actual group where no one really talks, because - hey, there's new people. Then the after group. The time where crickets chirp, awkwardness reigns, and the new people just can't wait to get out, and frankly, the old timers are relieved that they can now carry on with their normal visiting with "their" people.
I am convinced that most churches in America have no idea what to do with new people. They think they are friendly, welcoming, relevant. After all, we have greeters at the door, pointing them to fellowship time with coffee and donuts, and the ever popular "everybody shake a hand" time in the service. I mean, who doesn't want to be jumped on upon entering like a fat kid with a happy meal, then be pointed to go eat with complete strangers, then stand while everyone else shakes the hand of everyone they already know, feeling even more alone than when they first walked in?
I would wager that most people, when going to a new church, are hurting and feel alone. And honestly, all churches in America seem to do is make it worse. In the eagerness to be 'friendly,' it only seems to make people feel even more conspicuous. In the effort to be 'all things to all people,' it only seems to make people wish they weren't those people. I don't know the answer. I don't know how to bridge the gap so that welcoming doesn't seem forced, and connectedness happens. All I know is that it sucks to be the one feeling alone.