Today’s blog post comes from a book recently released by friend and colleague David Francis. David is LifeWay’s Director of Sunday School, and has led well from that position for a long time. He likes to remind us about the importance of getting back to the basics of good Sunday School work. In his latest book, 100: Charting a Course Past 100 in Sunday School, David challenges the notion that an outreach event like visitation is outdated and ineffective. Here is what David has to say about visitation:
In a sophisticated, technological society like ours, isn’t visitation a little old fashioned? Well, if American business would stop doing it, we could take care of our air traffic challenges immediately! Most of the business people you see on an airliner are “out on visitation.” They could have reached out and touched that potential customer by telephone or written then a note. In fact, they probably have and will. But they know there is absolutely no substitute for a face-to-face contact with the customer or prospective customer. So they invest in visitation (p.22)…
A few pages later, David picks up the conversation again about in-home visitation. He notes that it’s not polite or effective to expect to enter into someone’s home unannounced. He also says that making appointments is not effective, because 50% or more of those people who agree to an appointment are not at home at the time of the visit. How do you still make visits under these conditions? Here is what David goes on to say:
Drop by a prospective members’ house unannounced, but announce quickly at the door, “We don’t want to come in!” You’ll see immediate relief on the face of the person you’re visiting, and you’ll accomplish what you dropped by for: (1) Thanking them for visiting and inviting them back (2) Delivering information about the church (3) Most importantly, seeing each other face-to-face.
Before you talk yourself and your Sunday School out of visiting prospective members, ask yourself why you believe that it will be ineffective. Check your personal motivations – do you desire to stay at home another night of the week instead of investing an evening in potential new members? Have you convinced yourself that electronic communication is good enough, perhaps even better than a personal visit?
Sunday School is hard work, but Sunday School works IF you work it. At-home visitation is just one of those hard-to-do things that can pay big dividends for your church and your Bible study group, even in our “cocooned” society.
I agree with your premise that a home visit is the best and practice this in my ministry.
The problem I find is not that the visited are put out but that the visitor is shy or introverted that it makes it difficult for him or her to take the initiative to visit someone. We need somehow to overcome our fear of home visitation. There was a survey done by Lifeway about home visitation to invite people to church. I believe that over 50 of the surveyed were not opposed to being visited.