I once heard T.W. Hunt say at a conference I was attending where he was speaking that for one year he read no books other than that Bible. It not only profoundly changed his life, but his classic study, The Mind of Christ was the fruit of that.
Stephen Covey asked the question in his famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective
Churches People, “What is the one activity, if you did it consistently and did it well, would yield dramatic results in your life?”
That’s stuff we can think about, give an answer to, but few actually do – which is why we see so few results.
When it comes to evangelism, outreach, church growth or whatever you want to call it, what’s the one activity?
Before you answer I want to suggest one:
Invite people to church.
Now before the haters jump me and say “but the Bible says were are to GO!” or “it’s not a come-and-hear-gospel, it’s a go-and-tell gospel!”
I know all that. And I’m NOT suggesting in the least that we abandon training our people to do personal evangelism “off site.”
I get that.
What I am saying is that inviting people to church is one of the most effective forms of outreach.
Plus, as a strategy, it also holds these benefits compared to many others:
- It’s easy to teach
- It requires no significant training or skill
- Opportunities to exercise the strategy are near endless
Consider this from Dr. Thom Rainer in his book, The Unchurched Next Door.
- 82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited.
- Most people come to church because of a personal invitation.
Now those two things alone ought to at least make you think.
Take a breath now and consider this:
- 7 out of 10 unchurched people have never been invited to church in their whole lives
Can you say “white fields” three times real fast?
Now, while your wheels are a-spinnin’…
I don’t recommend just lobbing a quick let’s-go-invite-someone-to-church-this-week line into your next sermon or end-of-service parting exhortations. That’s about as effective as saying “go work on getting healthy!” to help someone lose weight or lower blood pressure.
You need to give a clear plan. Clear plans yield stronger action, thus measurable results.
So, specifically, teach this in your church:
- Make of list of specific folks you would live to invite to church over the next two months.Pray and ask God to lay on your heart friends, neighbors, classmates, co-workers and family members who live in our area whom you can invite to church. Write down those names.Pray the Lord open their hearts to the idea of visiting church, so they will be open to your invite when they get it. Next time you go into a conversation with one of these people, get your radar up for your natural segue into a casual invite.
- Schedule a place to land for Sunday morning breakfast in town and invite your friends via phone, Facebook or Twitter to converge there and head to church together. For a mid-week idea, make it dinner and then let them know everyone is heading to small group afterward and everyone is invited. (Get other small group or Bible study group members in on this!)
- Go for the easy visit. The easy visit is small group or an event, such as a women’s luncheon, wild game supper or concert. It’s less intimidating and they have less fear that anyone is going to ask for money or make them stand up awkwardly
- If possible, invite them into your life before inviting them to church. Asking someone to church that you’ve at least had them over for coffee increases the odds of a positive response.
- Invite them to church outside of church. That is, invite them to something your church is doing outside the church walls (like a barbeque or block party) and then invite them to church at that event after they’ve relaxed a little with your group.
Start here. More ideas are welcome. Got any? Leave your thoughts below after you check out this incredibly funny video about how to invite someone to church…