The Welcome Class as a Means of Outreach
By Ronald W. Waters
The Welcome Class is a pastor’s class for adults. I prefer the title “Welcome Class” because I think it sounds more inviting and friendly than some of the other titles used, such as “Inquirer’s Class” or “Membership Class.”
The Welcome Class can fulfill several roles in the growth of the church: outreach, assimilation, and discipleship. Here we examine the first of these roles: outreach.
Often we wait for others to come to us to indicate their desire to become a Christian and a part of our church. Instead, consider scheduling a Welcome Class, then make a special effort to invite the following to participate:
1. Obviously, you want to include new members in the class who have joined the church but have not yet taken a class. Be sure to send each one a personal invitation. And a phone call or personal visit may improve the chances of these people attending.
2. Also invite those who have said they would like to join your church.
3. New members offer an excellent opportunity to bridge or network to others in your community—persons who do not know Christ as saving Lord or who are not actively involved in another church. Ask each new member/new attendee to give you the names and addresses of prospective members: family members, friends, neighbors, work associates, hobby friends, club members, and so forth, who are not yet Christians or who are unchurched. Send each of these a personal letter or pay them a visit. Even better: encourage the person who supplied the name to invite them to join them in attending the Welcome Class.
4. Answer this question: who attends your church every Sunday but has not yet joined your congregation? These may be new families who have begun to attend . . . or a spouse of a member who has attended (maybe for years!) but has never joined your church (and perhaps never publicly professed Jesus as saving Lord) . . . or the parents of children who have joined your church. Regular attending non-members may just be waiting for someone to ask them to consider joining your church. Make a list of these folks and send them a letter of invitation. [Note: It is helpful to invite both a husband and wife to attend together, even if one is already a member. This is less threatening to the non-member, and the “already-member” also benefits from exposure to information about the church.]
5. Are there people in your community who have not yet attended your church who might be prospects? Of course there are! Possibilities include people you as pastor or members of your congregation know—other parents in the PTA, your bowling league, parents of children who have attended your vacation Bible school or after-school children’s club. Often they are open to an invitation. Ask them—by letter, by phone, or in person.
6. What about those for whom you have recently performed a service—a wedding or a funeral (family and friends of the deceased, that is!)? If they are unchurched, they are prospects. Those who has undergone a major change in their lives are likely prospects. Invite them to the Welcome Class!
In surveys of unchurched people, George Barna and George Gallup have discovered that anywhere from 25-60% are open to an invitation to a church. Many of these are also open to an invitation to make Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives and to become an active member of your church.
The key: often, we have not because we ask not! Offer that invitation before your next Welcome Class!
© 2000-2006 New Life Ministries (www.NewLifeMinistries-NLM.org). All Rights Reserved.
By Ronald W. Waters
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.”