VISITATION, ENROLL TO GROW, SPECIAL DAYS
BY J.O. AND MARY WALLACE RONALD AND EDNA NATION
Is your classroom a bit barren, like Hannah’s home? Do you want to see your class grow? If you had forty on roll, perhaps you could divide by age (closely grade) and teach more effectively!
Not all teachers want growth. Some are content with an almost-bare classroom and a stale, stagnant teaching situation. If you think more children would just be a bother–read no further. Better yet, just
resign and let God place in your classroom someone with a burden for today’s children; someone who will dedicate, and become a fruitful laborer.
If you do want more students, the fields of young children, especially Beginners through Juniors, are the easiest fields there are for harvest. Visiting absentees regularly is a must, but do you want to know how to win new prospects? Our aim should be for each child to have and enjoy the privileges of a godly home. This will send us out to help reach unsaved parents as well as children. Visitation will not be a weekly chore, but we will have a prayerful concern for the homes of our pupils. Endeavor to win both parents and the child to yourself, as a teacher, and then to Christ. Have a definite purpose in making home calls. This is not just a social visit.
Try this method with new prospects. First, purchase, or persuade someone to give you, a small gift for each child–a piece of candy or gum or an inexpensive toy. Run off some bulletins on a mimeograph machine, if your church has one. If not, type them, or use a magic marker or felt point pen to make your own.
On the bulletin write the words: FREE GIFT, FREE GIFT, FREE GIFT, lavishly all over the page, then stamp or write in the name and address.
Arrange for free transportation, the church bus if possible; if not, get interested saints to agree to be chauffeurs for you.
Saturday morning about 9:30 or 10:00 go out with your assistant and maybe one or two children who already attend regularly. Choose a likely area for canvassing. A housing project or an underprivileged
area is your ripest harvest field. Look for children who are outside playing. Approach them with a big smile, and say, “Would you like a free gift? Do you like stories? Well, come down to our Sunday school tomorrow and you will receive a nice, free gift just for you. You do want to come! Are you sure you really want to come?” (Let enthusiasm and friendliness radiate in your voice and manner.) “Well, come on, take me to your house and let’s ask your mother if you can come.”
By this time the child is usually very enthusiastic, and he does the selling job to Mommy. You are there just to reassure her that it is a bona fide invitation. Stress the fact that you will be the child’s teacher. (Don’t neglect to contact others for other classes, if they are outside and easily contacted. Mention that their teacher is a close friend of yours, and that you will personally introduce the child.)
Many churches have doubled their attendance in one year’s time, some in six months, by this kind of canvassing. One hour spent in visitation per week is a minimum for any Sunday school teacher.
In contrast to census taking, this is reaping the grain rather than counting the sheaves that other churches have, and hopefully gleaning a bit. Many people, when asked if they go to church, will invariably say, “Oh, yes we are_____________________.” The actual truth may be that they have not attended anywhere in months. Our purpose is to create a desire to attend our churches.
Watch for opportunities to witness, and to give your own personal testimony. If the parents mention some trouble, such as illness in the family, be quick to assure them that you will certainly remember to pray for their need. Read the Scriptures and pray, if given an opportunity. Offer to conduct a Home Bible Study. But avoid foolish questions or arguments concerning the Scripture. A genuine cheerfulness and sincere interest is always appreciated.
Enlist other prayer warriors to help you pray for lost parent. Mention the family to others in the church.
One ardent personal worker told of enlisting several in the church to make a point of speaking to a local business man. Several times a week different saints stopped by the man’s place of business just to say, “Hello.” Finally, such a concerted effort and united faith brought the man and his wife out to see what kind of church these people had. The warm spirit of worship that pervaded the service, plus the power of the Holy Ghost and the spoken word, brought conviction to the man’s heart. He responded, and was soon filled with the Holy Ghost.
The most important factor in visitation is its continuity. It must be done regularly, consistently and enthusiastically. Always be alert for new prospects. Question your young \, students about friends who would like to go with him to church.
One young girl who was invited during visitation was unable to go herself (her father refused to allow her to go), but she introduced the teacher to nine or ten other friends in her community, several of whom began to attend Sunday school regularly.
Remember that the common people heard Jesus gladly, and we have been commissioned to take this Gospel to the poor, just as Christ did (Mark 12:37 and Luke 4:18). Select a modest or poor district for your
field. These are the boys and girls who need you most. Their parents will, in many instances, permit someone else to take the children to church, even if they avoid this responsibility themselves. Often they
genuinely appreciate your efforts to be helpful to the children.
Educators have found that underprivileged children are often so hopelessly behind before they even start their education, that they never catch up, and are potential “drop-outs” before they finish grade one. This is also true of religious education. American children who do not have any church experience in early childhood may be in almost as much spiritual darkness as the heathen children of Africa. We can reach
many of these boys and girls on the streets of our towns and cities each Saturday, if we will visit regularly. Just a few dollars spent for a little promotion (small gifts and prizes) will persuade many small boys and girls, especially Beginners and Primaries, that church is a “fun” place to go, that the people at that church really like boys and girls, that Bible stories are the best stories, that God is really alive, and that Jesus can be their best friend.
After some time has been spent in regularly visiting and teaching these boys and girls, you may find that a children’s revival will be a most worthwhile project. Their hearts are tender, and can easily be touched by your love and concern, and through the power of the Gospel. Their beginning faith can be nurtured to withstand the call of the world during the teenage dropout period.
Zechariah 8:5 says, “And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.” If you want the children of your community to have a chance to play on the streets up there, get out on the streets down here, and persuade the child of the street that church is the place for him each Sunday.
Enroll To Grow Program
The “Enroll to Grow” program is a total church involvement. This program has been a tremendous success in churches who have implemented it with a sincere burden for winning souls. It is designed to increase
attendance in Sunday school and church and to put the total church to work. One week of concentrated effort and a systematic “follow-up” can produce fantastic results.
It is generally accepted that Sunday school attendance is equal to about one-half of the Sunday school enrollment. To increase attendance, it stands to reason that the secret is to enroll more people into your Sunday school, as well as cut down on the absentees.
Two ideal times for launching the program is late May or early September. The children are in school and the family is likely to be home in the evenings and not away on vacation. In most parts of the nation daylight savings time is still in effect and the ladies of the church could participate without fear of being on the streets after dark. The weather is usually war m at this time of the year also.
The first item on the schedule, after organizing the “enrollment teams,” is to conduct a special service to convey the burden and enthusiasm of the committee. The whole service is dedicated to the responsibility and burden of winning souls. The choir could sing songs such as “Throw Out the Life Line” and “Send the Light.”
Make total church to become a part of the program. Make an appeal for Nursery Personnel to keep the children of those on the “Enrollment Teams” and other staff workers. Have a children’s revival at this time
and make an appeal for the Children’s Church Leaders. A prayer team is also needed for the success of the program. Many of the elderly are unable to get on the streets and knock doors, but they can pray. Secretaries are needed to keep records and type out enrollment certificates. It is most important to have a “follow-up” team to take the enrollment certificate, church brochure, tracts, and a personal invitation to Sunday school the next Sunday.
This program is sponsored by the General Sunday School Division of the United Pentecostal Church and more information and materials may be obtained from them.
Special Days and Field Trips
Every Sunday is special when you have upgraded teaching, with well-equipped Learning Center classrooms. Nevertheless, the wise superintendent plans special, special days for his department.
Christmas is a special time. There is a delightful teaching time, as we rehearse the centuries-old story that is ever new and exciting to children. We plan special treats. programs, perhaps a party, to make this a memorable occasion for our students. Many ideas may be gathered for this traditional holiday.
By all means, use traditional songs that will warm the hearts of all who sing. Special choirs or programs are fine, but avoid using Nursery and Kindergarten pupils in any activity out in the main auditorium or sanctuary. The strain of presenting a program for grown-ups is too much for young children. Primaries and Juniors enjoy dramatics and special programs, and it can be a meaningful experience for them.
Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday that is appropriate to observe. Children can be taught to be thankful, and to share with those less fortunate.
Summer picnics should be on your yearly agenda. A chance to get together on an outing is a special treat. Enlist the help of several parents, to make it a safe pleasant time for all. An individual sack lunch brought by each child is the easiest way to manage the food. Remember to take extra food for those who forget.
Birthdays should be celebrated within the department, not out in the sanctuary. If you will mention it, many mothers will be happy to furnish a little extra for the refreshments on her child’s birthday. Plan your own way of honoring the birthday child, but be sure to do something. Every child needs his own place in the sun, and what better day than on his birthday?
Field trips may be a new venture for many Sunday school teachers, although public schools have used this kind of activity for many years. It can be a meaningful, happy occasion if well-planned.
First, decide where to go: a park for a nature walk, the zoo to see the animals, a museum to find out how people in other lands live, a library for a special book, perhaps a short train ride (just because so few of us ride trains anymore), a fire station, or a farm. Young children are vitally interested in all these various things and places. You will feel closer to your children as you establish warmer, closer contact with them.
An “open house” for parents is also a special day. Plan this shortly after promotion time. Parents should be notified sometime in advance. Be sure your classroom looks especially lovely. Display a good assortment of the children’s work. The room decorations should carry out the theme of a recent lesson. Make a special effort to get all unsaved to visit on this occasion.
Missionary Center–May be decorated on Missionary theme using “Whole World” or “Country of the Month.” Involve children in correspondence with missionaries and their work (current) as well as our responsibilities to the world.
Browsing Center–This provides a place for children to collect items on a particular theme and display.
Music Center–Quality church music or “background” music will add a congenial atmosphere to your classroom. Use music designed for the age level. A record player, guitar, and/or piano may be used as well as a rhythm band.
Memory Center–Use various Bible games to help promote better memory work as well as flashcards.
Let’s Dramatize with Puppets!
Everyone enjoys a good puppet presentation! Turn your imagination loose! The combination of simple cardboard stage, curtains, tape recorder, background music, flannelgraph background scenes and simple
homemade puppets may surprise you.
Stage: Use a huge cardboard box such as large appliances come in (large enough for two persons to enter). Better than this, ask someone to build a wood frame stage covered with large pieces of cardboard.
Using brown poster paint, front of stage can be painted to resemble boards. Colorful curtains can be installed behind eye-level stage opening. Curtains, hung with curtain rings, can be manipulated by hand.
Flannelgraph scenes (taped to pieces of cardboard) can be inserted into groove made in the end of apple box. Box is placed just behind stage opening. Top of box makes a convenient table on which to place small
props one might use. Those manipulating puppets should be sure to stay out of sight.
Puppets–It would be good to purchase or make several puppets with Bible costumes. Make several men, women and children. Children love animals of all types. Any animal spoken of in the story should be
portrayed by a puppet.
For variation, paper-mache or discarded doll heads can be used. Body patterns are not difficult to make. Glue on yarn for beards.
The marionette type of puppets are interesting if one is good with manipulating strings.
Tape recorder–Some teachers may want to record the dialogue at home, using other members of the family to assist them. A musical record in the background (loud at times and soft when characters speak) would give the presentation an added touch.
Narration–For the informative portions of the lesson story, use a puppet dressed in modern day clothing. This narrator puppet could resemble the teacher. Keep curtains closed and narrator peers at audience from in front of the curtains. This will help the pupils to not confuse the narrator with characters in the story.
As you use puppets more, you will see more possibilities. The lesson in life story could at times be portrayed with puppets. Have fun!
Here’s Another Neat Idea
Have a poster contest! Give your pupils a theme: Witnessing, Missions, Bible Reading.
Encourage them to use bright, lightweight cardboard (stationery stores carry it), felt-tip pens or poster paint, magazine cut-outs, short slogans, pop-art, glued-on objects.
“The Successful Staff Meeting”
How do your staff members react when you announce a meeting? Are there unhappy sighs, sidelong glances and disinterested shrugs? Or are there happy smiles of genuine anticipation?
A staff meeting need not be boring. A successful leader will pray, organize and plan for her class sessions. Consider these three vital points:
As a staff leader, your duty is to inspire and encourage the teachers in your department to expand their teaching ministry. What an impossible task, you say! That it is–without divine inspiration. Prayer is the key that will open this great channel // of inspiration. Pray for yourself; that you will be led of God. Pray for the teachers; that they will develop a burden for their class. Pray for the pupils; for their salvation.
Poor organization will kill a staff meeting. Start early on this. Take inventory of the pertinent needs in your department; invent a “catchy” theme; then outline the meeting schedule. You will be amazed at the ideas that will fall into place when you have laid the proper ground work.
Now that you have a theme and outline, you will want to choose methods of presentation that will spark interest. How else but with visuals? Use posters, chalkboard, filmstrips, or other objects to obtain this.
Another way to create interest is to give assignments to your staff members. This will break the monotony of your voice being heard, as well as giving you a lighter load.
Now, WORK YOUR PLAN! Follow through in every point and your meeting will be successful.
Suggested Theme And Outline
2. Make posters announcing meeting in advance.
3. Make assignments.
a. Book reviews
b. Visitation Report
4. Make a flip chart–one page for each of the following points:
(Illustrate each page)
a. Dust off and update record system.
b. Clean up visitation program.
c. Brush up on teaching methods.
d Restock supply closets (Paper, glue, etc.)
e. Knock down cobwebs of doubt and unbelief.
f. Polish and cultivate a love for souls.
5. Prepare for actual cleaning of Sunday school rooms following staff
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAME PRESS, 1967, PAGES 185-198. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.