1. Begin with an authentic conversation. This doesn’t need to be a deep conversation but rather a real and reciprocal dialogue. To begin this type of conversation, simply ask about the other person.
2. As they respond, give them the gift of your attention. Look them in the eye; hear their words and focus on their words. Watch your body language too. Make sure you are open to their conversation.
3. The next step is to try and connect with the person on a heart level. Try to feel and sense their emotions. Basically you simply need to love the person. Don’t try to fix them just love them.
4. Be careful not judge the person. So many times we let our experiences or even our prejudices hinder connecting with other believers. We are to love each other and that’s how the world will know we are followers of Jesus.
5. Make sure to call them by their name, discover the names of their family members, find out what they enjoy doing in their spare time/their hobbies/interests and what are their hurts/what has their attention at the present time.
6. If you expect them to open up, then you’ve got to be willing to do the same. Make sure you share something about yourself. What are your hobbies/interests? What struggles are you presently facing? This will let them know that you are real.
7. Don’t push the relationship. Some folks are at different points and not everyone is open for new connections. Be willing to go slow in order to help others connect with your class/group.
8. Spend time together outside of the class/group experience. To really get to know someone it will require more time than just one hour on Sunday. Schedule some fellowship/party time for your class/group.
9. Make sure your motives are correct. Are you trying to connect so that they will come to class or is because you truly love people? Make sure your heart is right. Love people, connect with your group and watch how God does some great things.
Dr. Tim S. Smith serves as a state missionary with the Georgia Baptist Convention and is the Sunday School/Small Groups Specialist. Visit their website at ssog.gabaptist.org for more information and other resources to aid your Sunday School.