Balancing First Impression and Connection in Sunday School

Wednesday 14th May, 2008

At last night's final leg of the Assimilation Tour 2008 in Danville, I had a realization about assimilation efforts in Sunday School. Many of the very efforts needed to greet and make guests feel welcome can help Sunday School classes connect more deeply with members (perhaps preventing them from becoming absentees). A balance of both efforts are needed to open the front door while closing the back door. Allow me to share this balance with you in table form:

First Impression with Guests
Connection with Members
Arriving Early Get to know guests. Listen. Complete name tag. Greet members. Check on status. Listen.
Name Tags Get to know guests' names. Help guest get to know members' names. Member name tags not in use that day indicate need to contact. Write phone number on back, pass to member, and ask to call.
Class Greeters Get to know guests. Complete registration card. Introduce. Sit with in class. Take to worship. Greet members. Notice who is absent; mobilize response.
Care Groups CG leader follows up weekly with guests (after first week). Calls to remind about upcoming fellowship/project, share/discover prayer requests, and minister to needs. Do the same with members and absentees. Notice when members not present. Mobilize class to meet needs.
Follow up Greeter calls within 72 hours after first visit. Care group leader calls weekly thereafter. Teacher makes home visit within two weeks. Outreach team visits within first month. Care group leader follows up every time when member absent. Mobilizes class to meet needs.
Fellowship Invited to next fellowship by greeter and care group leader. Invited to a member's home for a meal after second visit. All members and absentees invited to monthly fellowships and projects. Teacher invites members to his/her home for a meal.

The classes who move these actions toward caring for guests AND members are the ones that tend to grow in numbers and in relationships with each other. When members trust one another and are cared for, the time of Bible study tends to be deeper and more satisfying. Attendance tends to be more regular. Spiritual maturity becomes more apparent. And members tend to invite more friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors.

Sometimes we don't have to work harder--just smarter. Sometimes we don't have to create more structure--just utilize more effectively the structure we already have. Be intentional in your efforts at first impression and connection. Grow your class through these efforts to open the front door AND close the back door. For more ideas on assimilation and discipleship, check out Dr. Steve Rice's blog, 28Nineteen. Be revolutionary.

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