While visiting churches a few years ago as my family and I sought to find a new church home, we visited a half-dozen or more churches. Some made better impressions than others. Some were intentional in preparing for guests; others were not.
How can a Bible study group put its best foot forward? Here are five simple but needed improvements most groups can make with minimal effort:
- Nametags – Simple, powerful, and inexpensive, stick-on nametags help everyone in the group know one another. Nametags put everyone on equal footing and level ground. As a guest, it’s uncomfortable when people in the group are able to call each other by name and I am not. Nametags are great equalizers.
- Empty chairs – you need a few empty chairs for guests. I’ve visited Bible study groups and have had to wait for chairs to be brought to the room before I could sit down. When that happens it communicates the group didn’t really expect me to be there. They weren’t overly concerned about having guests in the first place and were probably an inward-focused group.
- Greeters – people in the group who are designated as greeters help guests quickly assimilate into the group. Greeters should be outgoing, friendly, and people-oriented. It’s there job to introduce the guest to a few others, and to sit with the guest during the Bible study (and hopefully the worship service).
- Bible study materials – many groups use ongoing Bible study materials from Christian publishers. Having extra Personal Study Guides available for guests to use (and take home) communicates they were expected, and that they were valued enough by the church and the group to have received the Bible study materials being used by the group members. I’ve also visited groups that did not have extra study materials, and it seemed as though everyone in the group knew what was going on (except for me).
- Declutter – when I sold a home a few years ago, the Realtor told my wife and I we needed to declutter the house. His statement caused a poor reaction on our part! We thought our home looked great as-is. But because he had “fresh eyes,” we realized in time that he was right. We took out extra furniture and clutter we’d become accustomed to, and it made a huge difference in the impression our home made on potential buyers. The same thing is in effect in our classrooms where we meet (assuming your group meets on a church campus!). We can become so accustomed to clutter that we quit seeing it. How many rooms have old posters, picture frames, clocks that don’t work, a stain on the carpet, a tear in the fabric of a chair, or a pile of junk in one corner that we turn a blind eye to week after week? Guests notice these things quickly. Decluttering helps groups make a good first impression.