I just finished reading a great little book about breaking the 100 barrier in Sunday School. The premise of the book is that more new people attend Sunday School because they were INVITED than for any other reason. The power of the invitation is more powerful than slick ads, compelling signs, beautifully landscaped buildings or accessible parking lots. Just a simple, “Will you join me for Bible study,” carries with it a magnetic appeal. The movie “Field of Dreams” said, “If you build it they will come.” Sunday School experience says, “If you invite them, they will come.”
The 100 in Sunday School threshold is centered in the power of an INVITATION. The book goes on to explain how a church can build a “culture of invitation” into every Sunday School class and the church as a whole.
One of the things that struck me as important was the point that a “culture of invitation” is advanced when leaders arrive early to prepare for and welcome class members and guests as they arrive. When the teachers and leaders are in place early, members and guests are given the message that they are important and welcome. Early arrival opens the possibilities of one-on-one conversations with members and new-comers. Getting to know people better is vital within the “culture of invitation.” Getting to the church late and playing catch-up just conveys that the Bible study and worship experience is just another thing added to an already overworked and crowded schedule. People feel that way all week long with all they have to fit into their lives. People feel special when they see that their presence is important enough for leaders to be in their places early and eager to greet them.
George Washington promptly ate dinner at 4:00 pm every day. If a dinner guest arrived late, they would often find him halfway through the meal or even pushed back from the table. To his startled, tardy guests he would say, “We are punctual here. My cook never asks if the guests have arrived. He always asks, has the hour come”
The “Culture of Invitation” never asks if the guests have arrived, but has the hour come for me to be in my place and ready to receive those whom God sends me to teach. Begin today—arrive early and join me in building a “Culture of Invitation” here at Grace.