Friendly faces and people just making others feel at home and welcome.
When I was a kid, I hated visiting new churches. You see, I was kind of a shy person as a kid (even now). It’s tough for me to go to new places where I don’t know anyone and feel comfortable. When we traveled and visited a local church and I had to attend their Sabbath School, it was a difficult experience. Kids would often turn around and stare at me. No one would smile, except at the kids they already knew. Sometimes the teacher was very friendly and welcoming, but I would get really embarrassed if they called my name out, because then the kids would all turn around and stare at me again. I couldn’t wait for it to be over so I could hide in the pew with my family during the service. Have you ever felt like this?
Do you know what really helps newcomers to a church or Sabbath School, or Pathfinder club, or even just to potluck? Friendly faces and people just making others feel at home and welcome. When those things are not there, don’t be surprised if you never see those visitors again. And you know what? That’s a really sad thing.
So what can you do? Read through these tips to find out!
1. Put a smile on your face. Smile, smile, smile. If you aren’t feeling “smiley” that day, ask Jesus to help you make it real. When you look around and see a shy new face, that smile can act like a welcoming beam of sunshine.
2. If you see someone new come to Sabbath School and look around for a place to sit, invite them over to sit with you. If they plant themselves in the back row because they feel better there, get up and join them.
3. Introduce yourself. “Hi, I’m Wilo. What’s your name?”
4. If there are parts of the program that involve splitting up into groups, make sure you include this new person.
5. If there is a snacktime or some other special thing after class is over, show impeccable manners by serving your new friend first.
6. You might be shy yourself, so I completely understand that being this outgoing can be tough for you. But at the very least, you can wave “hello.”
7. If your Sabbath School doesn’t have this in place yet, talk to your teacher about getting a nice but inexpensive little gift for new people. And go a step further by volunteering to be the kid that spots new kids and gives this special gift to them. This is also a great way to start a conversation.
I hope you will take these tips and make your Sabbath School a truly special place for anyone who wanders in.
LET US KNOW!
If you have other great suggestions for welcoming new faces to your church and Sabbath School, we’d love to hear about it. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God”(Rom. 15:7, ESV).*