NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The door to your Sunday School class or department communicates a great deal more than you might think — especially to a first-time guest, a preschooler experiencing separation anxiety, or parents entrusting their newborn to your care. Even regular attendees get a message.
The Sunday School experience begins at the door. Is your door a safe and inviting threshold to Bible study and fellowship? Here are some tips for making your door a vital part of your small group experience.
1. Station a person at the door. Nobody should come through your door without being greeted by a person (preferably someone with a sincere smile). In adult groups, this may be a greeter, but in preschool and children’s rooms, this will almost certainly be a director or teacher. Make each person feel special. For adults, that might mean offering a firm handshake; for preschoolers and children, you will want to kneel and greet them at eye-level. This tip requires one primary commitment: Get there early!
2. Consider the view from the door. What does the parent or participant see from the door? Is it a room that is ready for learning and fellowship? In a preschool or children’s room, are activity choices available on the tables? In an adult room, are the chairs mostly facing away from the door so that late participants can slip in without being stared at? If available, is there a poster or picture related to the unit or lesson mounted near the door? In a baby room, does the view communicate “bright, clean and safe?” Stand outside your door and ask, “What do my eyes tell me about this room?”
3. Consider the smell from the door. In an adult room, nothing is quite as inviting as the smell of fresh coffee, pastries or fruit. In a preschool room, there is nothing quite as uninviting as the smell of … well, you know. My wife and I teach pre-K Sunday School and we never have a problem with separation anxiety on the days we’re baking cookies in the toaster oven.
4. Consider the paperwork at the door. Nothing is quite as awkward as the “Baptist paperwork” we subject guests to when they visit our churches, so make this paperwork as easy as possible for the new person. Never ask a guest to fill out a visitor’s form. Instead, ask the greeter or a class member to a) fill out the form and b) introduce the guest at the appropriate time. Coming to class for the first time should not resemble going to a doctor’s office for the first time.
If you have a sign-in sheet as part of your preschool/children’s security system, don’t assume a new parent knows how to fill it out. Be available to walk them through the process.
5. Remember Jesus at the door. We all know the verse, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). Each man or woman, boy or girl, who comes through the door of your Sunday School classroom may be doing so in response to God’s gentle knocking at the door of his/her heart. What if it is the first time — or one, last time? Coming though the door may be a much larger step of faith than you can imagine. Do all you can to make it a great experience.
David Francis is director of Sunday School at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.