Sunday School is an ongoing teaching/reaching ministry with open groups (open groups expect new people to be there each week). Many groups will have a guest (or guests) in the group each week. Well-intentioned group leaders and other group members may forget that there are a few cardinal rules to follow when guests are present. In no particular order, here are 3 things you never ask a guest to do in Sunday School if you want them to return:
- Pray out loud. Many seasoned saints don’t like to be heard praying out loud, and neither do some guests. While some guests would be comfortable voicing a prayer, the majority will not. It’s perfectly fine to have a guest pray, though, if they volunteer. If you ask, “Who would close our study time in prayer?” and a guest volunteers, by all means let them pray. Don’t volunteer a guest to pray, though, unless you don’t want them to return.
- Answer a question directed to them. Some of the guests in your group are going to assume that everyone in your group is a biblical scholar. Guests may feel at a disadvantage because they have not been in Bible study as long as the members of your group. To ask a guest to respond to a question, particularly a theological question, can inadvertently run them off. The exception: icebreaker questions are fine to ask, and to expect each person to respond since there are no wrong answers (if it’s a really good icebreaker, there is no wrong way to respond).
- Read Scripture out loud. The Bible is full of hard to pronounce names of people, places, and things. It’s easy to get tongue tied when reading the genealogical list in Matthew’s gospel, and you can get just as confused trying to pronounce some Old Testament people and cities! Don’t ask a guest to read a portion of Scripture out loud – but instead wait for them to volunteer to do so. Some guests may not be able to locate the Scripture passage in the first place – they may not know where to look for books like Malachi, Song of Solomon, Titus, or Ruth; asking them to read out loud could accidentally expose their lack of knowledge about the Bible.
There you have it. Three things not to do if you want guests to return. What else would you add to this list?
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