Here are some ways to show visitors that your class is “open” on Sundays, and not closed to outsiders.And I would add a #7: Seek visitor feedback. We need to know how visitors experience our groups, what was / wasn't helpful. What would be more helpful. Now this is challenging, no doubt. There is an appropriate time and manner of doing this. But we need to be constantly thinking, how do new people experience this meeting?
1. START TIME
Are parents able to drop their children off at their classes on time? Does the adult class start on time? If your start time is 9:00, but all the members know that things don’t really get going until 9:15, then your visitor (who might even arrive a few minutes early) feels like everyone knows a secret they don’t. How to fix this problem? Start on time. Or at least start your fellowship on time, so that a visitor doesn’t face the awkwardness of an empty room.
2. LEAVE EMPTY CHAIRS
Who do you set out chairs for? Leave enough empty chairs so that your visitors will feel they are expected and welcomed, not an intrusion.
3. NAME TAGS
Some classes laugh at the idea of wearing name tags. “We all know each other,” they will say. But such a mindset betrays the fact that the class is already closed to outsiders. We don’t wear name tags for each other; we wear name tags for visitors. If everyone has a name tag, then a visitor blends in better with the group. (Tip: If you are expecting a new visitor that you have invited, have their name tag already prepared before they show up!)
4. STAND ALONE LESSONS
Make sure that your curriculum provides a stand-alone lesson every Sunday. Don’t do an intensive Discipleship course in Sunday School. (I’m all for intensive Bible studies in other venues, but if you do a study like Experiencing God in class, your visitors are automatically behind in the lessons and feel like they have to play catch-up.) I usually go through books of the Bible in Sunday School, but I make sure that each lesson is “stand-alone” in the sense that someone who has never been before can jump right in.
5. DON’T HAND VISITORS A FORM
Do you want them to feel like they’re in a doctor’s office? No… don’t hand them a form. Instead, sit down with them and you fill out the form as you get to know them.
6. INVITE NEW PEOPLE AND INVITE VISITORS BACK
Nothing can substitute for a personal invitation. If you have a visitor, make a call and follow up with them and let them know they are welcome to come back.
Plus #8: Never assume an 'in-house' meeting. Not with our lingo, not with our customs. We must always be explaining things as if your broader community were present.
What else are we missing?
[See TWax's original post here.]