If your Sunday School class plans to meet on Easter Sunday, it’s possible you’ll have some Easter guests. It’s a great Sunday to invite every prospect you’ve got on your potential group member list, and encourage your group members to invite friends and neighbors.
Here are seven ways you can put your best foot forward and warmly welcome the guests who step into your Sunday School or Bible study class for the first time at Easter:
1. Wear name tags.
I can’t tell you how important it is for people in groups to wear simple peel-and-stick name tags! Name tags help people get to know each other, and they help guests feel relaxed because they can talk with people and call them by name. This is my normal practice in my Bible study group, and many guests have thanked me after the session is over because the name tags helped them engage people in conversation.
2. Have extra copies of the Bible.
You won’t need many, but three or four copies of the Bible should always be handy in case a guest arrives without one. This recently happened in my group, and I’m thankful that we had a copy to place in a man’s hands who came without one. Your church may even have complimentary copies to give away. If so, have a few in the location where you meet for Bible study.
3. Plan a get-to-know-you activity.
Rather than jumping into the Bible study this week, consider starting your group time with an activity that encourages conversation and builds community. Ask people to share their favorite Easter memory from childhood, the most memorable activity they’ve done as a family on Easter, where their favorite Easter meal took place (and what they ate), or a family Easter tradition that has been meaningful to them over the years. Facilitate a conversation that gets everyone sharing, and you’ll help your guests relax and become part of the conversation quickly.
4. Have extra copies of your curriculum or Bible study books for guests.
If your group is using a particular Bible study, have extra copies. When my wife and I were visiting churches prior to joining our current one, several small groups we tried did not provide us with a copy of the material they were studying, so we felt like outsiders. Give each guest a Personal Study Guide and invite them back to the group’s next Bible study.
5. Provide a breakfast snack.
Some simple snacks such as donuts (the old stand-by) or individual breakfast quiche bites and some coffee or juice can provide a way for people to fellowship while they eat, and it may also be an unexpected special treat for everyone if you don't usually do this.
6. Proactively introduce guests to members of the group.
I make it my practice to quickly meet any guest who comes to my Bible study or Sunday School class. I then introduce them to another person or couple in the group. I want to help them start making connections with others, so I quickly hand them off to people with whom I know they’ll have something in common.
7. Follow up quickly with guests.
Set aside 30 to 60 minutes on Easter Sunday afternoon to send a follow-up email to each guest who came to your Bible study. If you have their phone numbers and have time, make a few calls and have a brief conversation with each person. Ask if they have questions about you, the group, or your church. Research has shown that the faster we follow up with our guests, the higher the percentage that they will return to your group!