Recently, I read an article in The Christian Post that surprised me. The gist of the article was that most churchgoers are not ever inclined to invite unchurched friends to worship, even on Easter. In fact, Barna Research reports that only 2% of churchgoers regularly invite an “un-churched” friend or neighbor to church—ever!
These statistics really touch the mission of Outreach, Inc., which is to help the local church share God’s love. Responding to our mission and these alarming statistics, Outreach is pleased to support National Back to Church Sunday on September 12, 2010! Click on the brochure to learn more about this National day.
It’s fantastic to have a single Sunday where the church is focused on inviting thecommunity back to church—it’s even better to get your church members to participate by inviting their friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. After all, according to Elton Trueblood, “Evangelism is not a professional job for a few trained men, but is instead the unrelenting responsibility of every person who belongs to the company of Jesus.”
Here are a few ideas to help in training your congregation to become inviters:
1. Share your outreach plan. Get your congregation excited! Announce to them how and where you will advertise your church’s outreach event. If you will implement a direct-mail program, include copies of your postcards in your weekly bulletin. If you’re putting up posters around town, encourage your members to ask their favorite retailer to put one up in the store window.
2. Create a buzz. Build enthusiasm and support for your special event using video, announcements, drama, greeter training, and posters promoting your event hung in highly traveled areas. As your members prepare to invite friends, they’ll be glad to know they’re not alone. In addition, displaying an invitational banner outside your church not only serves as another advertising impression for passersby, but it also reminds your congregation that you are actively inviting. You can also create an ongoing buzz and reinforce your ongoing commitment to outreach throughout the year by regularly inviting members to share their testimony during a service, or perhaps tell stories of their inviting experiences.
3. Equip church members to invite. The most powerful invitation is “word-of-mouth.” Make it easy for members to share with friends by providing written invitations for them, complete with the dates and times for your event, a map, and a Web site URL where they can learn more.
Here are a few ways your members can get started with inviting friends and neighbors:
Doorhangers: For those who don’t yet feel comfortable inviting people personally, a doorhanger might be just the ticket. Try placing an invitational doorhanger in each bulletin and request that members pray about which neighbor’s door to hang it on.
Texting: During the Sunday service, a week before your event, have each person pull out their cell phone during the service and text a friend, inviting them to church next Sunday.
Facebook: Set up a Facebook “event” page promoting your event and have your members join and invite their online friends.
Gift book: Provide your members with inexpensive gift books, such as the ReDiscover Church booklet. They can be easily handed to friends with an invitation to church.
According to Lifeway Research, 82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church—if someone would simply invite them. Consider getting started by engaging your church around Back to Church Sunday this fall, and then follow it up with an ongoing outreach plan that will help change the DNA of your church to an outward focus. You’ll be surprised at the inward transformation that will occur.