It Takes More Than Sunday School and Worship to Close the Back Door

Tuesday 4th March, 2008

I was a part of the Assimilation Tour '08 tonight in Paducah. On such a snowy winter night which scared some away, I was amazed at the interest. Ninety people showed up, many came together as a team from their churches. They came from all over this part of the state. Why? Because we are not doing a good job of closing the back door. We are not doing well at assimilating people.

My friend and then coworker, Steve Rice, wrote a great blog post entitled C.L.O.S.I.N.G. the Back Door. Steve launched our training time tonight with the outline contained in that post:

  • Create a welcoming environment.
  • Let people know you care.
  • Offer multiple connections points.
  • Start a membership class.
  • Invite people to lunch.
  • Notice what's happening with people.
  • Give them a place to serve.
Then we divided into three conferences dealing with the first three points. The conference I led was the third one: Offer multiple connection points. In my conference, I talked about Lego blocks. The connection is weak when there is only one peg connected on Legos. It is stronger with two and even stronger with four or six. The same is true in the Sunday School. The more relational connections we help people to discover, the stronger the connection.

Think about connections you could help people to make in worship. Introduce guests and new members to persons sitting around them in worship before and after worship and/or during the greeting time. Assign a greeter zone captain to greet people in his/her section of pews. Ask ushers to seat guests close to people of similar age. Have a fellowship time with the pastor after worship.

Think about connections you can help people make in Sunday School. Arrive early to meet and greet guests, members, and new members. Spend time connecting. Wear name tags. Enlist class greeters in youth and adult classes. Enlist and train care group leaders. Fellowship as a class. Invite guests and new members to homes for lunch. Follow up on guests. Assign an encourager to new members. Serve together in a service project.

Think about other connections your class could help guests and new members have. Encourage them to get involved in a choir or music group. Join a sports team. Discover an affinity and enjoy it together. Serve together on a church work team. Plan churchwide and/or age group fellowship activities. Survey your church and community and offer seminars and study groups to meet identified needs. Offer home Bible studies.

The more connection points your Sunday School members and guests make in the church, the more likely they are to stay connected to Sunday School, to grow as a disciple, and to continue to serve our Lord. Sunday School teachers, leaders, and classes need to step up in their efforts to be more proactive in encouraging guests and new members to develop more connections. I want to invite you to attend one of the remaining seven stops on the Assimilation Tour 2008 . Care. Connect. Be revolutionary!

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