Why it’s biblical to keep your shoes on during small group

Ben Reed —  February 17, 2014 — 4 Comments
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I never wear my shoes in the house. Shoes bring in dirt.

On top of that, I’m more comfortable without them on. My at-home routine when I finish the day is to take my shoes off and put them in the basket beside the front door. After that, I feel like I can relax.

I don’t choose to take my shoes off because I feel like I have to. Or because my wife expects it. Or because it’s something I’ve done since I was a child. I do it simply so I can relax.

Small group time

Just a few weeks ago, we started a small group in our home. When I came in that Tuesday evening before people started arriving, I continued my normal routine. I took my shoes off, placed them in the basket, and started getting our house ready.

30 minutes before we started, I got my shoes back out of the basket. I put them back on my feet, tied them, and wore them until everyone in our small group had gone home for the night.

Then I went back through my routine. I took my shoes off, placed them in the basket, and sat down on the couch.

I didn’t accidentally wear my shoes during small group. I didn’t forget to take them off. And I’m not self-conscious about the smell of my feet. (though you may be conscious about the smell of my feet, I’m not. :-))

I wore my shoes to help people feel welcomed.

Many people don’t like to take off their shoes in others’ houses because

  • they’re self-conscious about the smell of their feet
  • they have dirty socks
  • they didn’t cut their toenails
  • they’re worried about the dirt in someone else’s house
  • they don’t take their shoes off in their own house
  • they feel more relaxed with their shoes on
  • their feet are cold

And if they feel like they have to take their shoes off, they’ll either:

a. Not. And feel guilty.

b. Take them off. And resent you for it.

So I chose to wear my shoes, and help people feel comfortable coming just as they are. Not having to bend to the rules of our family, or change their routine to fit our culture. I wanted them to feel like their wasn’t a hurdle they had to jump over, that they don’t have to at their own house, to engage in our group.

If keeping my shoes on helps someone feel more comfortable, welcomed, and loved, I’ll wear my shoes every week.(Tweet that) Small group is a blend of cultures, values, and traditions. Some people value keeping their shoes on.

If you want to love people well, go out of your way to serve them. (Tweet that) Surprise and delight. Make the best coffee in town. Let them sit on the couch nobody else gets to sit on. Let them eat off of the forks you reserve for special guests. Kindle the fire if it’s cold. Crank up the A/C if it’s hot. Open your home, open your life, and open your heart-shaping, will-bending, costly generosity (Re: Luke 14:12-14).

And if you want to create a culture that values people right where they are in life, let it start with your shoes. (Tweet that)

How do you creatively welcome people into your life?

The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. – Acts 28:2

 

 

 

Ben Reed

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Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.
  • alex

    When I go to church homegroups everyone automatically takes their shoes off at the door. The homes that host the groups all have carpets and most are expensive off white and cream carpets. Wearing shoes is not an option. Some take slippers to wear and others go in just socks.
    At our home we always take off our shoes at the door and wear slippers. Our guests also take their shoes off and as before they either go in slippers, socks or bare feet. Some people don’t like their guests to go bare foot but we don’t mind.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Not a bad idea, Alex!

  • http://www.about.me/kathyfannon Kathy Fannon

    In Michgan we all take our shoes off at the door. I’ve had people apologize for forgetting to take their shoes off, even though I don’t mind. I want them to be comfortable. When I go to somebody else’s house, I plan for my stinky, bare feet and bring socks if I think I’ll need them!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Absolutely, Kathy. You completely get the heart of what I’m talking about.