Follow Up Work

Follow Up Work

Ernest B. Sprunt

A special series of children’s A meetings usually provides many excellent new contacts for the Sunday School. The full value of these contacts will be lost, however, unless a diligent follow-up campaign is carried out. The purpose of this article is to give helpful suggestions for this important phase of children’s work.

Plans for follow-up should be discussed prior to the start of the series so that initial steps may be carried out during the meetings. Delay lessens the chance for good results.

If a series runs for two weeks, it is advisable to visit the neighbourhood schools with advertising matter on the Monday of the second week to remind the pupils that the meetings are continuing. The more frequently you contact the children the greater is the possibility of inducing their regular attendance.

When a child comes to meetings for several nights, and then misses two or three, a telephone call often will bring him back, and others with him. Most youngsters will respond to any show of interest in them. Wisdom should be used in the matter of those children who come without the knowledge of parents who are opposed to the Gospel.

There are advantages in announcing a Parents’ Night at the close of the series, at which time a small reward may be given to each boy and girl who brings an adult. Folk are more likely to permit their children to join the Sunday School after they have seen the way the service is conducted and have heard the Bible lessons that are being taught.

Another suggestion is to hold a special rally on the Sunday following the series, to which parents and new scholars are invited.

Sometimes an announcement is made with great stress, “Any boy or girl who does not go to another Sunday School is welcome to come to ours.” Why make such restrictions against a child who may be going to a place where the clear Gospel is not taught, or where “damnable heresies” are being instilled in the young minds? Extend a hearty invitation to every one, and be sure that all who come are made warmly welcome.

Consideration should be given to the possibility of following up the special series with a children’s meeting, or hobby class, one night a week in order to maintain effective contacts with those youngsters whose parents take them elsewhere on Sundays.

Some groups plan their special campaign as a wind-up to their winter’s craft class or weekly meeting. In this event, be sure to retain names and addresses of all who attend, so they may receive announcements when activities are resumed.

Above all, a visitation program should be conducted following the series, if at all possible. After the area is mapped out, listings should be taken from the attendance records and volunteer workers assigned to specified areas. In this way, visits may be made systemmatically and without overlapping of calls.

By means of the data card, the caller is enabled to address the parent by name and make reference to the children. After sincerely expressing appreciation for the young ones coming to the meetings, a warm invitation should be given to the whole family to attend the Sunday School and Gospel meetings.

There are advantages in sending out the visiting team two by two. A person with limited ability, or with lack of confidence, may be paired with one who is experienced and gifted in visitation work. Also one may be able to pick up an opening for favorable comment, or to answer difficult questions, which the other is not able to do.

Persons making the calls should not be offensive nor argumentative, nor should they become unduly verbose. If. however, the one being visited shows definite signs of interest in spiritual things, present the Gospel in a kindly and concise way, avoiding pressure on the first contact.

It is advantageous to keep a record of all calls made, with a notation of reactions and other information which will be useful on subsequent visits to that home.

Where such door-to-door visitation cannot be conducted, a letter should be sent to each home, inviting the family to activities at the hall or chapel. By this means an opening is made for possible visitation at a latter date.

Special functions or variety programs may be used as another means of maintaining contacts. One Assembly holds an annual dinner for ex-scholars, to which all who formerly attended the Sunday School are invited for a re-union.

Others have successfully held Mother and Daughter or Father and Son Banquets, the expense of which is not large when the potential results are considered.

When such special gatherings are arranged, it is imperative that there be a good representation from the assembly, so the strangers will not feel conspicuous or get the impression that they have been led into something that is only half-hearted.

Let the program be conducted without stiffness or too much formality; otherwise the visitors will feel ill at ease. On the other hand there should be an air of dignity and reverence that befits the people whose God is the Lord and that characterizes the place where God’s honor dwells.

If there is group singing, the wise song-leader will choose well-known hymns with a Gospel message, or choruses which have been Sunday School favorites, so that all will be able to join in the singing. Many a hard heart has been softened, and more than one sinner has been won for the Lord as a result of hearing again an old-time Gospel hymn that has been forgotten since Sunday School days.

Especially in the cast of the Ex-Scholars’ Dinner, it would be advisable to have a few reminiscent remarks by an old-time teacher or superintendent who could recall incidents that occurred when the visitors were children in the Sunday School.

The speaker for the evening should be one who is interesting and forceful. He should present the Gospel in a plain, pointed manner and withal he should be brief. People have a general aversion to after-dinner speakers. The audience, therefore should not be bored with a long, dry message.