There are a few simple things that every on-campus class can do to better connect with guests. Here are some of them:
1. Communicate clearly the type and style of the class. For example, make sure that the age range or life stage of the class is clearly communicated in Welcome Center brochures, on the website, and on the door sign of the room. Some people are drawn to classes that are more focused on biblical content; others are drawn to classes that are more focused on biblical community, fellowship, and support. Being ‘out front’ with who you are as a class will help guests have a better first-time experience.
2. Set up the classroom in a way that is welcoming but non-threatening. One of my all time pet peeves is walking into a classroom and finding that all the chairs are facing the door. With this kind of room set-up, there is no way for guests to peek in inconspicuously to check out the class — let alone make an entrance that is anything less than grand! I encourage class leaders, whenever possible, to set up their room with materials and refreshments by the door — and with the teacher or director being the only one facing the door.
3. Assign class members to serve as hosts for guests. This is not to say that the hosts are to smother the guests with hospitality. But having someone to walk with the guests to worship, show them restroom locations, etc., is a great way to encourage an instant connection. Hosts might also invite guests to lunch after church, during which they can help answer any questions about the church or class.
4. Secure contact information from any guests — and use it! So many times class leaders fall into the trap of thinking they have to do it all. In a short period of time, teachers can find themselves responsible for preparing a lesson, completing attendance records, sending cards, setting up the room, and making announcements — among other things. It can become quite overwhelming, so it’s no wonder that details begin to fall through the cracks. All classes should have someone who makes sure that guest information is completed — and outreach leaders who make sure that guests receive a thank-you call or visit in the first few days following their attendance.
5. Wear name tags! This is one of the easiest but often over-looked tools for connecting not only with guests but with each other. If you’ve ever watched the old TV show “Cheers,” then you know that the thing that made that bar popular was that it was a place “where everybody knows your name.” There are a few people in this world who are really good at remembering names. However, most people aren’t like that. I’m in the majority. I have to really work at names, so I appreciate name tags a great deal. If your class is not already using name tags, I encourage you to start. You’ll be surprised how such a simple thing can make a big difference!
IT’S YOUR TURN!
- If you’re in a Bible study group or class, what works well to help you connect with guests?
- If you’ve recently been a guest in a class, what kind of experience did you have?