There are dozens of Bible passages about doors. Here are some of my favorites:
After they arrived and gathered the church together, they reported everything God had done with them and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” —Acts 14:27
Because a wide door for effective ministry has opened for me—yet many oppose me.” —1 Corinthians 16:9
At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah…” —Colossians 4:3
Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door I will come in to him and have dinner with him and he with Me.” —Revelation 3:20
[Peter] knocked at the door … and a servant named Rhoda came to answer. … Peter, however, kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.” —Acts 12:13,16
The last one is my favorite! The group was gathered in the house praying for Peter’s release from prison. God frees him, and he comes to the house. Rhoda forgets to let him in. When she goes to tell the group that Peter is at the door, they essentially respond, “No, he’s in jail.” What if God sent the guest to your door—the guest you’ve been praying for? Is your door a safe and inviting threshold to study and fellowship? Whether that door is an entrance to a classroom at church or to a house where a small group gathers, here are some important considerations about the door.
1. The person at the door. Do you have a greeter at the door? Are they friendly and welcoming? Do they smile? Have a nice handshake? Set a positive mood?
2. The view from the door. What does it look like from the door? Are the chairs set up in a way that signals whether the group will experience a conversation or a presentation? Does the view make a person want to come in?
3. The smell from the door. Does the room emit an aroma of coffee? Donuts? Dinner? Fish sticks? (My wife and I often prepare them when the story in our 4-year old class is “Jesus made breakfast for His helpers”!) Does the smell make you want to come in? Or does it make people think something fishy is going on?
4. The paperwork at the door. Do you ask guests to fill out forms? A better way may be to introduce them to a member and ask the member to complete the form and introduce them to the group at the proper time. Going to a new group should not be like going to a new doctor.
5. The exit through the door. Departure can be awkward, especially for a first-time guest. Make it as comfortable as you can. An invitation to lunch or coffee is perhaps the best experience a guest can have—whether they say yes or not.
6. The conversation at their door. If your church still practices visitation, the conversation at the newcomer’s door may be the most important one. I recommend you try not to get in! Simply drop by, take something as a gift (baked goods, chips and salsa, a magazine, a mug, a copy of the Bible study material you’re using, etc.). Have a brief conversation for the purpose of inviting them to—or back to—your group. I bet you’ll dramatically increase the odds that you’ll see them at your door again.
David Francis is Director of Sunday School at LifeWay. He is the author of eleven small books available for free at lifeway.com/davidfrancis or at the iTunes store. His interactive Bible study, Spiritual Gifts, is in its ninth printing and is not free! (But it is available to order at lifeway.com.) He and his wife Vickie teach four- and five-year-olds in Sunday School and are members of a small group of empty nesters. Their three sons and their families live in three different time zones—Boston, Los Angeles, and Bryan-College Station.