Rachel, a thirty-year-old woman from your community, decides to visit your Sunday School. What will she find? What will happen? Who will she meet? How will Rachel feel? Will she have a memorable experience? Will she find her way around? Will it be positive or negative? Will she enjoy the teaching-learning experience? Will she enjoy meeting the teacher? What will she remember at the end of the hour? Will Rachel connect with anyone? Will she remember any names? Will anyone follow up?
Wow, what a list of questions! What would happen if you sat down with your Sunday School team and asked them to think about what would happen? Would they expect Rachel’s experience to be overwhelmingly positive? Or would they be honest about problems or holes in your system? If there were problems/holes, would they be willing to work to fix them?
In this two-part series, I will point out ten “spaces of opportunity” in your Sunday School to make a great first impression. In Part 1, I will share the first five spaces:
- PARKING LOT. Is it in good repair? Does it need signage? Would parking greeters help guests navigate available parking and enter the best building entrance? Are spaces reserved for guests? for parents of preschoolers?
- CHURCH ENTRANCE. Is the ideal entrance for guests clearly marked (perhaps with a welcome center sign)? Is the entrance attractive? Is it staffed with a friendly person? Does the face represent the people you expect to visit?
- WELCOME CENTER. This does not have to be an elaborate piece of furniture. This can be a simple space staffed by a couple of people with good people skills and information about your classes and church. They should have good listening skills. One person should walk guests to classrooms while the other person remains to greet guests. This can be a place for completing registration cards and/or name tags.
- HALLWAYS. Are your hallways attractive or cluttered? Do people greet each other (and guests) as they pass? Are there any odors? Does your building have good signage: age groups, restrooms, sanctuary, fellowship hall, offices, etc.? Think about the need for signs as if guests missed the welcome center. Could they find their way around?
- CLASSROOM DOOR. When members and guests arrive, it is an opportunity for a class greeter to welcome them. The greeters will move guests into the classroom and introduce them to members. The greeter will make sure the class has contact information for the guest and ensure everyone in the class wears a name tag. At then end of class, the greeter will walk the guest to children, restrooms, and worship.
What other first impression opportunities would you add to each of these spaces? In Part 2, I will address five more spaces: classroom, teaching-learning experience, restrooms, worship, and follow up.
Rate your Sunday School on a scale from 1 (poor) to 10 (great) in each of these five spaces. Add up your ratings. How did you do? If you scored 40 or more, you treat guests well. If you scored 30-39, identify and work on a couple of “space for opportunity” in need of improvement. If you scored below 30, lead improvement to become a priority. Take steps immediately to address your spaces with low scores.
If you make a great first impression, you will be more likely to see guests return. And they will be more likely to connect and stay. Your efforts will be rewarded with class and Sunday School maturational and numerical growth. Care about every guest. Care for every guest. Invite. Enroll. Follow up. Be revolutionary!