Scared to death.
That was me as a young man when confronted with the task of inviting friends to church.
I knew it was a good thing, but there were so many hills to climb. Obstacles ranged from personal insecurities to institutional quirkiness and everything in between. So at the end of the day, I rarely invited anyone.
But, does church growth really matter? Isn’t it more important that we are “faithful?” Didn’t Jesus say that the way is narrow and there will only be a few who find it?
Yes, He did say that. But His declaration in Matthew 7 was not a challenge to the church to make it as difficult as possible for the lost to find the narrow road.
In fact, the opposite is true!
The church is to be a city on a hill – a light that shines brightly, illuminating that narrow road. We’re not called to be a luxury cruise liner, but a perilous rescue boat, risking it all to save those who will believe.
So yes, church growth matters because people matter.
Anyone can put up a circus tent, hire actors, and draw a crowd. But the church isn’t a circus, and it’s members aren’t actors. We’ve been commissioned with the most powerful truth in the world – the only truth with the power to change a heart. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ!Real growth requires real change. Real change requires a real God. Click To Tweet
Why aren’t more of your members inviting friends to church? 82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited. This according to Dr. Thom Rainer’ book The Unchurched Next Door.
There are both practical and spiritual factors at play.
As your church tackles the mission of populating the narrow road, here are some possibilities to consider:
1. They don’t really want to be there themselves.
The hard truth is, church members won’t invite others to be part of something they don’t believe in themselves.
Members who attend because of shallow motivators such as guilt, fear, and manipulation will almost never be inviting friends to church.
There’s no promotion, trick, or three-step plan to fix this.
The only solution to this is a heart change, and it’s a long play. Let’s preach the gospel with clarity, remove the baggage that doesn’t look like Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to do the heart surgery that He alone can accomplish.
2. They’re afraid of rejection.
That’s me. I’m the empathetic guy who cares about everyone’s feelings including my own. The thought of putting myself out there and receiving a negative response is not attractive. How do we help individuals overcome this fear?
I was always told “They’re not rejecting you, they’re rejecting God.” I get it, and I understand the theological accuracy of that statement. However, it was still me that was confronting the person and dealing with the uncomfortable feelings.
Translating the theological fact to the practical reality isn’t always a smooth handoff.
I think the answer here is two-fold.
First, it’s got to become a habit. For some people, that means simply working through the awkward uncomfortable feelings and becoming better at it.
Secondly, it means driving home gospel realities with our church over and over. People want to talk about what they are passionate about. If our church members are passionate about Jesus and the gospel, the task of inviting their friends into that truth will be far less intimidating.
3. Your church isn’t visitor-ready.
It may be that your church members aren’t ready for visitors. They see them and notice, but don’t know how to respond. As leadership, we’ve got to work at changing that mindset.
Sometimes our local churches can become way too clubby. We have our heads down. We have our group, and we know our routine. Many churches are open to the thought of first-time visitors, but are blind to the experience of first-time visitors.
Don’t be that church!Many churches are open to the thought of first-time visitors but are blind to their experience. Click To Tweet
Establishment of a complete visitor workflow is beyond the scope of this post. However, be sure to check out 7 Simple Ways to Wow First-Time Church Visitors for some easy-to-implement practices!
4. Your special days aren’t visitor-friendly.
While “Old-Fashion Sunday” and “Potluck-n-Horseshoes” have their place, they are not ideal outreach events for most churches. Be sure to plan at least a couple of events each year that cater to new visitors.
Make a big deal out of it!
Whether it’s “Friend Day”, “Public Servants Day”, “Community Appreciation Day”, or something else, plan some events that are all about reaching out. Arrange each part of these special days through the eyes of a visitor, and make it all about them. Show them the love of Jesus! Your members will rally around it, and inviting friends to church will be much more natural.
5. They haven’t been equipped.
With today’s internet resources, there are no more valid excuses for low-quality outreach material. There are loads of fantastic church outreach designs available – many of them are free!
For a relatively small investment, you can secure a variety of great-looking professionally-printed pieces for your members to use when inviting friends to church. Whether it’s a simple business card or a multi-page brochure, equip them with some high-impact materials.
Also, don’t ignore social media graphics. Give your church some quality encouraging social media graphics to share on social networks.
Not sure where to start? Check out 20 Free Graphic Design Resources for Churches for some of the best!
6. You haven’t asked them to invite.
Perhaps you’ve tried your best to focus. You’re working at building a visitor-friendly culture in your church. You’re planning some outreach events and you’ve secured some high-impact materials.
This may be the simplest but most overlooked reason that your church is not inviting their friends…
You haven’t asked them to!
Let’s make it a habit to remind our church family to invite others to church. You’re busy. They’re busy. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a hundred things while we let opportunities pass us by.
Remind them from the pulpit and in the bulletin. Remind them through social media. Keep the task of inviting friends to church front, center, and top of mind!
CONCLUSIONYour church members' family, friends, and coworkers won't respond to an invitation they don't get. Click To Tweet
The church is God’s instrument of the gospel in this world. Let’s make sure we are equipping, enabling, and encouraging our local assembly to be the church wherever they go.
One thing is certain. Your church members’ family, friends, and coworkers will never respond to an invitation they don’t receive. Let’s change that for the sake of the gospel!