- Praise God
- Please be praying...
- What Every Church Needs to Know about Marketing: Final Thoughts: If you don't pass the people test, nothing else matters
- What Every Church Needs to Know about Marketing: Part 3: Marketing is about People
- What Every Church Needs To Know about Marketing: Part 2: Marketing is Everything
- Getting Your Current Members to Invite Friends
- Through the eyes of a visitor
- Encouraging progress
- Please be praying
- Bootstrap Faith
- Know Our Hearts?
- Seldom Read But Always Evaluated
- Creating an Experience
- The Bond Between Music and Design
- The Church Exposed
- The Value Principle
- The Nike Effect: Part II
- The Nike Effect: Part I
- Starting New This New Year
- Christmas Revelation from Charlie Brown
- The Video: Speaking Starbucksian
- And The Winners Are...
- The Video: A Treasure Hunt
- The Video: We're Not Like That Church Down The Street
- The Video: Signs of Neediness
- The Video: Death to Papyrus and Comic Sans!
- The Video: Inconsistent Artwork
- A Thanksgiving Thought
- The Video: The Culture Crime
- The Video: Reserved for Barista
- The Video: Real Men Love Java
- The Video: Marketing is more than you realize
- The Video: The purpose of the video.
- What If Starbucks Marketed Like the Church? A Parable.
- re-Branding on Momentum
Thanks again for praying for us. Michele is improving and I am getting back in the saddle. Here's another article for the moment... Taken from an article I wrote for Pastors.com, May 2006
Here's a truism: people that have had a life-changing experience with God want others to find God in a life-changing way. This is surely true. It is also true that most people that sat in church pews last year never invited one single person to their church. So what is the disconnection?
I think one of the biggest disconnects we have in the church is that, as leaders, we often forget what it was like to go to church for the very first time. The intimidation factor for a lone visitor in a new church is simply huge. But it is nowhere close to the stress and vulnerability that is put on a churchgoer who invites a visitor. All inviters put their reputations on the line every time they invite someone to church. You can rest assured that your church members will not invite someone if they do not expect a positive outcome. And most of the time, that's why one church isn't growing and the church around the corner is. It has led us to say that "People are not ashamed of Christ, they are ashamed of their church." Ouch!
I asked a young friend how he was enjoying his church; he admitted that he loved it but was bothered by the fact that the church wasn't growing. I asked him why it wasn't growing; he acted bewildered and said, "I have no idea."
"Yes, you do," I challenged him. "You know why it's not growing."
After a silence, I asked, "When was the last time you invited someone?"
"Well, it's been a long time," he said ashamedly.
"Why don't you invite people?"
He shuffled his feet and said, "I don't know."
"Yes, you do," I said. "The reason you don't invite people is the same reason why your church is not growing."
I could tell that bells went off on the inside. He responded, "Yeah, I know why." He had known it all along. He just had never connected the dots between the challenges of inviting people and overall church growth.
It might be simple. A congregant might be embarrassed about the church decorations, the woman who shouts from the back of the church, the inexplicably deep or dry sermons or the pastor telling jokes about his wife. The harder it is to invite people, the more challenging church growth is.
You see, I knew my friend loved God and wanted others to experience Christ's love. Unfortunately, most people are not intimidated about being Christians; they are intimidated about inviting people to their church.
The simple truth is that if an invitation is hard to make, for whatever reason, fewer people will be invited. The battle for growth is first fought in the hearts of churchgoers who want to better the lives of those around them. This is actually the desire of the vast majority of churchgoers.
I cannot say this emphatically enough-all true Christians want other people to become Christians. It is planted in them when Christ is planted in them. This means if your church has to beg, push, cajole, offer incentives, or even just remind people to invite others, it is a telltale sign that, for whatever reason, they do not believe the ministry that takes place will make a successful connection with the people they would invite.
This is where the rubber hits the road. Is your church connecting with your community? The main link is through your congregation, and if they think you're not connecting, you won't.
It is no wonder Paul challenged us in advance to "become as one to win one." The ability to relate to our communities and church growth go hand in hand. When a ministry can successfully relate to the people in its congregation in a way that reassures them that their guests will be connected with, the churchgoers will be willing to invite others because they know it will relate to those they invite.
By analyzing the temptations and challenges associated with inviting people to church, we found the following to be true. If a churchgoer can answer these questions positively, then inviting friends and family will not only be easy, it will become a lifestyle. The church will explode with growth! As a side note, my guess is that none of these topics would ever show up on a visitor survey. They require us to look closely in the mirror, as even our closest allies would have a hard time advising us of some of these issues.
- Will my friend feel welcomed?
Principle: Hospitality-The atmosphere, nomenclature, and style of service should be inviting and not intimidating to the unchurched.
- Will my friend fit in?
Principle: Comfort and Compatibility-Like it or not, invitations and visitor comfort decrease when social or cultural gaps exist.
- Can I feel confident that I know how the service will turn out?
Principle: Consistency-People need to know what to expect, because they will invite accordingly.
- Will my friend get something out of it?
Principle: Relevance-The message should be relevant and powerful for people at all spiritual levels.
- Will my friend understand it?
Principle: Understanding-Jesus taught through practical illustrations. The songs and message should be understandable for people at all spiritual levels.
- Will anything that could seem strange to the unchurched be explained through Scripture?
Principle: Sensitivity-Scriptural actions should be carried out with clarity and considerate explanation.
Having said all this, I am convinced of one thing. If members walk out of your service saying, "I wish my unchurched friend had been here," they will start to think about inviting their friend. If a member walks out of your service three weeks in a row and says every time, "I wish my unchurched friend would have heard that," nothing will stop that member from dragging that friend through your doors. The challenging thing is that often, when members walk out of churches, the only thing they can say is, "I wish my other church friends would have heard that."
It's time to evaluate. Are we creating an atmosphere that fosters growth or are we just ministering unto ourselves?
I really enjoyed this article. How hard it is for churchgoers to invite friends. You clearly identified some reasons for this disconnect. Thanks.
Posted on Wed, May 27, 2009 @ 8:28 AM CST
This is a GREAT article! Thanks for sharing. I especially like your six principles and hope to share them soon at a leadership meeting. I guess we have this problem; I've heard it from a number of people.
I'd be interested in a follow-up article about how to deal with church leaders that think none of this matters, that people who are concerned about the building's appearance or the singing or whatever are being insincere, and so are guests who are bothered by the same.
Posted on Wed, May 27, 2009 @ 9:22 AM CST
What if "inviting your friend to church" is not the best way to share the gospel. Isn't living the gospel, your life as an example, the best way to attract your friend to Jesus Christ? Why this emphasis on "inviting" a friend "to church"? Of course, then there would be no need for church marketing consultants and "strategic" church planning to make your church hip and inviting, right?
Posted on Sun, Jun 7, 2009 @ 3:06 PM CST
Thanks T. Salas, that is totally legit! Let's all work on that. I think inviting people to a church can be crutch for people who should be sharing their faith. Of course, there might just be valid reasons to invite people to church. I received Christ when someone invited me. I am "kind of" (slight understatement) grateful for that. Please keep compelling the church to train evangelism. I back your play. As to your comment, "There would be no need for marketing consultants..." I think if we, as the Body, emanated Christ in our daily lives like we should, the world would be running to us and I would be glad to focus elsewhere. In the meantime, lets work together from all angles to see lives changed for His glory. Blessings!
Posted on Thu, Jun 11, 2009 @ 1:34 AM CST
(My original comment. There was apparently a server issue. No offense taken, and I hope none given.)
I agree 100% with the article. I really resonate with Jeremy's comment. I don't think that the pastors in many churches fully buy into this. Or at least they are unwilling to preach it or admit it to themselves. More typically the efforts towards growth are through advertising or other campaigns. Or improving the worship service and the Sunday School. "If you build it..." These are not bad things, but as you said real growth needs more. We the people have unlearned this over the years. We need to learn it again.
Or, sadly, this line from the post is more applicable: "all true Christians want other people to become Christians"
Posted on Thu, Jun 11, 2009 @ 5:49 PM CST
At the last church I was a part of, invitation was the main way the church grew. Over a three year time period we went from trying to advertise and market a little underfunded church plant like it was a mega church to realizing that a more grass roots effort of the people in the congregation inviting their friends would be much more successful. By the grace of God it was. The first year (advertising etc) we grew very little and even declined a bit. The next two years of inviting and focusing on this concept doubled our size. God was good! Invitation is critical in my experience. But not easy.
Posted on Wed, Jun 17, 2009 @ 5:13 PM CST
I stumbled upon this post while researching for a project on Church Growth.
The church I attend is currently trying to put together a five-year plan. They formed a vision committee that is attempting to define who we're called to be and where we are going. The problem is that they want to move forward by trying to recapture the past. A few of the older persons on the committee (of which I am not a part) are trying to get back to the way things used to be. The biggest problem I find is that younger people (such as myself) cannot relate to something we were not a part of. I've also heard this referred to as "driving by looking in the rearview mirror".
Posted on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 @ 11:49 PM CST
Are we creating an atmosphere that fosters growth or are we just ministering unto ourselves?
we need to be both.. for the churched & unchurched -christians should attend churches to grow in thier walks with the Lord. it may be difficult for them to do that if every sunday is outreach. there's a balance needed.
Posted on Fri, Jan 15, 2010 @ 12:02 PM CST