A guest shows up for your class. He or she arrives a minute early. No one is in the room. Members arrive and joyfully greet each other. The guest sits unnoticed. The teacher arrives several minutes after the official starting time for Sunday School. Because of lateness, the teacher launches into announcements, prayer requests, and prayer time. The teacher never acknowledges the guest. The lesson starts and ends before anyone speaks to the guest. A first impression has been indelibly made. Would the guest return? Was an opportunity missed to share Jesus and his love?
In Part 1, I shared ways that prayer helps Sunday School to be evangelistic. In Part 2, I shared about the importance of relationships for helping Sunday School to be evangelistic. In Part 3, I shared about how fellowships can help Sunday School be evangelistic. For Part 4, I will focus on evangelistic moments before and following the official start time for Sunday School. Consider the following ten ideas:
- ENLIST. Put someone in charge of welcoming members and guests every Sunday. Don’t “hope” it will happen; enlist and train people to do so. Use those moments to connect with guests.
- ARRIVE EARLY. Arrive several minutes before class. Make it your goal to arrive before the first person arrives! Pray each Sunday before greeting. Prayerwalk the room. Meet God and then those for whom He sent His Son!
- WELCOME. Make your ministry to express interest and care for each person, members and guests. Get to know guests. Introduce them to attenders. Do so without embarrassing guests. Look every person in the eyes while you listen. Listen for hurts and help the teacher and class respond in care and ministry.
- USE NAME TAGS. Names are important. Speak them. We live in a visual society, and many will benefit from name tags. Help guests know your names. Get to know your guests by name. If you do, guests are more likely to return. If they return, they are more likely to join the class and to have opportunity to respond to the love of Christ.
- INTRODUCE. Without embarrassing, introduce guests to members (and vice versa). If affinities have been discovered, connect guests with members sharing those similar interests. Continue introductions beyond the classroom and into the sanctuary before worship begins. Connect them with staff persons and volunteers who relate to members of the family or areas of interest or need.
- RECORD. Complete a guest registration card for every guest. Seek good contact information. Develop a good records system for recording and keeping that information. Add local guests to your class prospect lists and/or care group lists. Without good contact information, it is difficult to follow up.
- LISTEN. Listening is priceless. Give guests your undivided attention when they are talking. Allow them to talk more than you do. You cannot learn more about them while you are talking. Ask questions without appearing to be nosy. Ask because you are interested and care. Listen with your ears and eyes. Acknowledge you are listening with your facial expressions as well as words. Show your interest in them as a person.
- FOLLOW UP. Decisions for Christ often begin with a caring relationship. That relationship usually requires mor e than one interaction. A call or visit to follow up is more personal. Email, text, and mail are less personal, but can be used as well. Thank them for being in class and worship. Share prayer requests and ask for requests. Pray together. Invite to a class fellowship. Listen. Care.
- START A FRIENDSHIP. Do more than be friendly. Start a relationship. Care. Connect. Spend time together. This begins with genuine interest, not rushing, asking questions, and follow up. Talk about your best friend, Jesus.
- CARE. Have care and do care. Show them you care. Show them that Jesus cares! Affirm. Listen. Respond to needs. Share gifts. Remember special days like birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, and more. Spend time together beyond the greeting. Mobilize the class to respond to needs. Share Jesus.
What would you add to these ideas for making our greeting more evangelistic? Choose one or two and implement them in your class this week! In Part 5, attention will turn to making our teaching even more evangelistic.