Joe and Callie were new to the church. They had visited in the worship service last week, and were pleased that the music was worshipful and the sermon was biblical and challenging. Today they were back after deciding to visit in a Bible study. When they arrived at the classroom, it was almost full. After standing at the door and looking around, they saw a few empty chairs, but none together except in the front row. They really wanted to give the class a fair chance, so they made their way into the room, walked down to the front, and settled in. Only the teacher spoke to them, but the class was about to start so they didn’t think much about it.
When the class ended, the young couple made their way back to the door. Those class members who had not already left were locked in conversations with each other. Though they had appreciated the worship service, Joe and Callie concluded that the members of the congregation were more interested in themselves than in new people, so they moved on to another church.
Joe and Callie are a fictional couple, but the scenario is real. It happens many times in churches across America. Is it happening in your church?
Here are just a few things you can do to make visitors feel welcome in your Bible study or small group:
1. Have plenty of chairs and materials (don’t make the guests feel like they’re intruding by having someone give up their chair or materials).
2. Be sure to keep your room clean, bright and fresh.
3. Greet every person as they enter the room.
4. Introduce visitors to others. (One-on-one, so the visitor learns the names of others, and not just vice-versa.)
5. Encourage class members to pay attention to guests—to speak to them, to move and free up chairs so a visiting couple can sit together, etc.
6. Have class members sit toward the front of the room so that guests don’t have to.
7. Have a small gift for each first-time visitor.
8. Invite guests to other church activities and programs.
What else are you doing to encourage visitors to be comfortable and to return? Leave an idea in the comments below to help others.
These are just a few of the ideas your teachers can learn in our Teach for Maximum Impact seminar!
© 2014 Jim McLoud. All rights reserved.