Let’s Visit an Absentee
Dr. Jack Hyles
One of the problems that every preacher and Christian worker faces is keeping the members faithful and contacting them when they are absent. We’re constantly reminding the Sunday School teachers to visit absentees and get them back in class, and let them know they’re welcome. A few of the things we have found through the years to be helpful concerning this matter are as follows:
The most important absentee to visit is the one who was absent last Sunday. Nothing should be taken for granted here. Every member of the church is a potential backslider. Just as one drink can lead to drunkenness, and one evil thought can lead to adultery, even so can one absence lead to backsliding. To be sure, all absentees should be visited, but it is tremendously important that a person get a visit the first Sunday he is absent.
So many churches have tried the plan of a post card the first week, a phone call the second week, and a visit the third. This should be reversed. Do all you can to get him back the first Sunday. After three weeks he is a habitual absentee and is out of the habit of coming. Again, I say, the most important absentee to visit is the one who was absent last Sunday.
Make a list of absentees every week for every worker. We must be careful not to drop names too hurriedly from our Sunday School rolls. The easiest thing in the world to join should be a Sunday School. The hardest thing to quit should he the Sunday School. Pupils should not be dropped unless they die, move, or run off. If we take a member off our rolls, we will forget them and they will not be visited as absentees. Some churches find it advisable to have an active and inactive roll. This is well and good, if the inactive roll is visited as well as the active roll.
The Seven-Up Club. We have found it advisable to have what we call a Seven-Up Club. This is composed of all the people in our church who will promise to visit at least three prospects a week and four absentees a week or more, making, a total of seven or up. The cards may be given out on Wednesday evening. They may he kept until the next Wednesday, turned in with the results of the visit. This insures the person of making at least seven visits a week for the Lord.
When making an absentee visit, make it more casual than a prospect visit. This is especially true if you know the absentee personally, and in most cases you will. The visit can be folksy and conversational and can make for the class members to get to know each other better.
Stress what they missed last Sunday. So many absentee visitors emphasize how much they missed the absentee. This is well and good, but the thing that should be stressed the most is how much they missed. Tell them what a good service you had Sunday. Tell them how many conversions the church had. Tell them about the music, the good sermon, etc. In other words, create in them a desire to want to come back next week.
Do not talk about their being absent last Sunday but rather their being present this Sunday. Say very little concerning their absence. Scolding would not be in order, but rather get them promised for next Sunday.
Remember the advantages of absentee visitation. First, it gives the teacher the need of the pupil. No person can be the proper kind of teacher unless he knows the needs of his pupils. These needs cannot be known properly unless the teacher has been in the home of the pupil. To learn about the parents, the environment, the house, etc., is important for the teacher to do the most good for the pupil.
In the second place, it lets the pupils know the teacher. It is always good for the pupil to be able to see the teacher outside the Sunday School class and to become somewhat of a pal and a buddy with the teacher. This is aided by a personal visit to the home.
In the third place, absentee visitation also aids in lesson preparation. Knowing the condition of the pupil’s home will enable the teacher to include the necessary thoughts and observations in his lesson on Sunday. This is tremendously important.
Always have a prayer in the home before leaving. Many boys and girls (and adults for that matter) never pray at home. The Sunday School teacher can bring a little bit of Heaven into the home if he will offer a prayer before leaving. This is tremendously important in an absentee visitation.
The above article, “Let’s Visit an Absentee” was written by Dr. Jack Hyles. The article was excerpted from Hyles book Let’s Build an Evangelistic Church.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”