Making Visitors Welcome

NOTE:  This article applies to Beginner/Kindergarten classes - Primary and Junior require slightly different techniques, however, you may still find the tips given here useful.

Now I don't really want to sound as if I am pushing my own barrow on this issue but I am in a rather unique position to understand the perspective of a visitor in Sabbath/Sunday School (read here to find out why)!  The way children are welcomed into a class can have a tremendous impact on:

  • the way parents view your church
  • the way children perceive church and Christianity
  • the impact of the outreach ministry in your church.

Because of this, I thought I'd share a few positive, practical and commonsense ways of including visiting children in your class.  Some of these tips may sound obvious but there is never any harm in sharing them even if it is remind you of the importance of this outreach ministry.

1.  Find out the child's name - as soon as they arrive if possible.

This is very easy to do if a child is early, but difficult if they arrive after you have already started.  However, if you take the time to find out the child's name early, it is much easier to include them in activities naturally later.  To aid this, you may like to have a helper give children name cards as they arrive, making sure you have plenty of spares to write the names of visitors (please don't just have a generic "Visitor" name card!).   You may even like to keep the card with the comment that they will be able to wear it next time they come!

2.  Have a regular time in your program to welcome visitors.

Make a special effort to warmly welcome visitors and help them feel that they are important to your class.  This time should be earlier enough in the program so that visitors can be included in the rest of the class but late enough to include stragglers (another obvious point!).  This can be the time to find out names if you haven't already done so.  You may like to do this just prior to prayer time so that they can be included by name in prayer - thank God that they have come to your class today.

3.  Give them special jobs to do, just as if they were a part of the class.

Mikhyla, particularly, loves to be involved in Sabbath School and is not shy about putting her hand up to take up the offering or any other job that is on offer!  Please take the time to respond to this willingness - even if it is just to say that while that while 'Peter' is taking up the offering today, you have got some special things for 'her' to do while they sing the next song.  Remember, not all visitors are outgoing so make sure you give them things to involve them even if they haven't shown a particular interest. 

4.  Have an alternative to attendance cards that they can take home.

A generic "Visitor" card for them to place the attendance sticker on is really quite meaningless for young children.  One way of overcoming this to have a regular supply of special blank cards that they can put their attendance sticker (and memory verse sticker if used) in.  You might like to write a little message to them inside this card thanking them for visiting your class on that day.

5.  Prepare a class even when the regulars are absent.

When you are in a small church it can be very tempting to have a break on the weeks that you know many of your regular children will be away.  However, holiday time can be a time when there are more visitors.  You are more likely to have an impact on them and encourage them to return if you have prepared for them, and teach your class as you regularly would.

6.  Invite them to return.

Remember, your class may be one of the few times these visiting children have had contact with a church program.  Taking the time to make them feel welcome and encouraging them to return may be just a small task, but the seed may be planted for them to continue and hopefully develop a relationship with Jesus.  Don't neglect this important outreach!

Other Suggestions

Ruth shared the following:

A couple of things that we do for visiting kids, is have a special something for them.  Let it be a pencil, a sticker, or something small that reminds them of their visit.  The other thing is that in our church we say the names of our visitors from the pulpit, and we pass a list of the children visitors also, so when the kids story comes along their names are also mentioned.

You may like to check out the following resource from Sunday School Resources Outreach for more ideas.

Do you have some great ideas for including visitors?  Click here to give us some of your ideas.


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