Make sure that times and locations are clearly communicated.

You can never have too much communication or signage. One of the biggest fears of a new person is sticking out, and the easiest way to do that is by being in the wrong place or at the right place but at the wrong time.

Sandwich boards with big arrows and times are a great portable option to get people around.

Prepare The Room

Again, the goal is to assuage fear and make your guests comfortable.

Have both tables and chairs available.

I want my class to be able to take notes easily, and doing that is much easier if a table is available. The table also gives the new person something to “hide” behind. Setting up just chairs in a circle or semi-circle could be too much intimacy for people who don’t know each other.

If possible, have only one row of tables and chairs

Most new people will automatically go for the back row because it’s uncomfortable in a small, unfamiliar setting to know there is someone behind you. Consider doing a U shape with all your tables if space is limited.

Making everyone comfortable was always my first priority. This starts before they even step foot in the room

Create good lighting

Ensure the room is bright enough for people with bad eyesight to read and write without strain. If possible, use a warmer color temperature for the lighting and not a harsh fluorescent.

Consider having music play softly in the background

Silence is one of the biggest causes of awkwardness when you’re new. I’m always worried about filling the silence with a dumb comment or making a weird noise. Now, that may still happen (and in my case, it most likely will), but I don’t feel as nervous about it if there is something to fill the audible space. Much like tables give a person something physical to hide behind, music or other sounds give them something audibly to hide behind.

Have fun swag available at each individual seat

It’s fun to get stuff. Most churches have some sort of welcome bag to give to new people. Hopefully, yours has something actually fun and not just a magnet of your church building 😉 Double down on this and have another gift waiting for them for their first time in your starting point class. A good generic option is a gift card. We’ve given away $5-10 Amazon and Target gift cards. If there is a good local restaurant, you could also give a gift card to support them. We’ve also given away these cool notebooks with a spot for a sticker or other branding to be placed on the front.

The most important part is to make sure it’s actually something that is a gift and not just a marketing tool. That doesn’t mean it can’t be branded; just make sure it’s done tastefully and fun 🙂

Have snacks and drinks available at each individual seat

Why each individual seat? Maybe you have a box of donuts and a pot of coffee available in the back. That’s great, but if the goal is to make people as comfortable as possible, don’t make them get up to get it. If it’s already there waiting for them, it says that you’ve been thinking about them and want to give them something. Bottles of water are a great option here because everyone drinks water. Pre-packaged snacks are the best because the person knows that nobody else has touched what they’re about to eat. What kind of snacks? A small variety is best to try and hit at least one thing a person likes. Goldfish are great because they’re not messy, are easy to handle, and are relatively quiet. There’s a reason we give them to kids (they’re awesome), and there’s a reason the adult helpers are always swiping a couple here and there. Everyone loves Goldfish 🙂 A few other options are Hershey’s Kisses, which are small, packaged, and can be bought in bulk, mints, almonds, granola bars, Nutella with sticks, and popcorn.

Have something to hand people as they walk in

Having something to hand out right away is a super easy way to initiate contact and greeting. This could be a gift, but I always preferred that to be at the seat as a “found treasure” or something they weren’t expecting. Most often, I would hand my students a welcome pack that consisted of the book we would be using, the study guide for notes, a card for a question (which we’ll talk about later), and other informational material on our church.

In Part Two, we’ll talk about actual human interactions and how to lead the class best!

The Perfect Starting Point Curriculum

If you’re looking for a good book and curriculum for your Starting Point class, we designed and wrote A Visual Theology Guide to the Bible specifically for this purpose. It introduces people to the Bible, answers questions they might have about it, and then leads them through the whole thing, teaching the gospel and showing how Jesus is the hero all the way through.

We have a study guide, slides, and handouts available to help you teach through the whole thing! You can get it all here – you can even download the first three weeks for free.

If you’re a Gold or Platinum member, all the study materials are included in your membership. If you’re not a member, join today and get access to all our curricula and posters!