When I was a teenager, I spent several summers working in the Title 1 program at a local elementary school. One of the requirements was that the teachers were required to make a home visit to each child in their class. The teacher I worked for took me on those home visits one summer and the experience has influenced me ever since.
Home visits gave me a glimpse into the home lives of the children in our class. I was able to see the support they had and the obstacles they faced. I still didn’t know everything about the children, but visiting the homes and meeting the adults in their lives made me more empathetic and created a stronger bond with the student and those families.
There is research to back up the importance of visiting someone in their environment. One study found that prisoners who received visitors while incarcerated were significantly less likely to commit a crime after their release. For students, the results are even better. One study found that students who were visited in their homes by a teacher had parents who became more involved in their education, the students presented less discipline issues when in class and the student and their family had more positive attitudes about school.
While the studies are secular, one could safely assume home visits by ministry staff or volunteers could have equally positive results. What if taking the time to visit children and teens in their homes encouraged parents to be more involved in the spiritual education of their kids? What if any behavior problems in Bible classes were reduced? What would happen if your Bible students and their families had a more positive attitude about your ministry? Any or all of those benefits could help your ministry be more impactful and effective.
Yes, home visits take extra time and effort. One person doesn’t have to do them all, however. If you have an average of two teachers per Bible class and ten students, that means each volunteer would only make five home visits. If a ministry staff person helped, it would be only a little over three home visits each. Surely, a significant improvement in outcomes for your ministry is worth three to five hours of a volunteer’s time outside of class!
If you don’t add anything else this year to your ministry, add home visits. Even if they have to be in the front yard or with masks, they could just be the catalyst your ministry needs.