You know it may seem silly but one thing we talk about in RSM is the difference between being inclusive and exclusive. I have talked so much about this topic that most of our teens could give this talk for me. That is not a bad thing, this is critical to us at RSM. So what is the big deal? Well just as it sounds being inclusive is all about including other people, and being exclusive is the exact opposite.
Think of being exclusive like an “exclusive club”. Only certain people are going to be allowed in. It isn’t for everybody, you have to be somebody or know someone to get in. That is the last thing we want our youth group to be. We want and strive to be an inclusive group. We want teens to feel included, that they belong, and that they don’t have to do anything to earn that feeling.
We all at one point in our life have been excluded. We know the feeling of being left out, or on the outside looking in. I can honestly say I have been there in my life. I know we really start to feel that in elementary school all the way through high school. So much of it is unintentional, while some is not. Many times we don’t mean to exclude others, we just don’t put the extra effort to try and include them, or to make them feel part of the group.
So once again what is the big deal and why am I writing about this in the newsletter? Well honestly I believe this is something we really never grow out of. This pertains to adults as much as it does to the teens in our youth group. It is really easy to get comfortable with the people we know, the table we sit at and not reach out to include other people. While we are not intentionally trying to exclude others, it’s just that our actions say little about trying to include others.
Being inclusive comes naturally to some people, while be it few, these are the type that just make friends easily and make the outsider feel a part of the group. Most of us including myself don’t fit into that category. We have to go out of our way to make others feel included. Sure we may see that person sitting alone at a table, or looking disoriented but our natural reaction isn’t to go greet them, we usually think someone else will make them feel welcome, or feel included.
Now let me say this as I do in youth group. I am not saying that we need to be everyone’s best friend, and just be the outgoing, bubbly, life of the crowd. It is about being genuine, and honestly wanting to make others feel welcome and included. There is nothing worse than being fake with someone and being less than genuine in our efforts to include them. When the opposite happens, and we are genuine and really strive to include others it can be a very powerful thing.
Let’s face it, we all want to feel included. Even those of us who are the loaners still want to feel as though we belong to something. What better place to make people feel included than our church. I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and work on including others. Go sit at a table you with someone who is alone. Greet people as they come in and don’t expect that the people standing at the door to just do that job.
It is important that we don’t stop there. We teach in youth group that we don’t want to be one way in the youth room and another way outside. This principle should carry on in our daily lives, at work, with family and in school. We can’t include others at church, and then ignore them the rest of the week. Invite people over for lunch or dinner. Invite them to be a part of your circle of friends. Include them in normal life activities that we all participate in and want to be a part of. You may see something happen without you even knowing it. That is right the “D” word, discipleship, but that is another post.