Inviting someone to church should be the easiest thing in the world. Who wouldn’t want to come hear good news? And yet there are so many reasons that Christians don’t invite their coworkers, neighbors and friends to experience a weekly worship service. Rather than identify reasons that Christians don’t invite people to church, I thought I’d offer five positive reasons:
- They will more than likely come! One surprise from a Barna study of the unchurched: 96% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if they are invited. We think that people are turned off by “church,” and so we say “no” for them rather than letting them say no. However, when a genuine, personal invitation is given, most people respond positively. Instead of an impersonal: “Hey, do you want to come to church Sunday?” … Try this instead: “I’d love for you to consider visiting my church with me soon. It would mean a lot to me that you checked it out. Would you be open to coming this Sunday or next?” Do you see the genuine, personal investment in the second question?
- Inviting someone else will usher you into spiritual adventure. When you don’t invite or play a role in the invitational process, you think you’re playing it safe. No harm done. Right? But you’re missing out on one of life’s most incredible opportunities – being able to play a role in someone’s life transformation. Being used by God to introduce someone to forgiveness, peace and ultimate purpose?! There’s nothing more rewarding or energizing! To put it in athletic lingo – is sitting on the bench really what you want to do the rest of your life? You show up for practices (church attendance). You suit up day in and day out. You may have even watched YouTube videos or listened to podcasts on how to play (live) better. The coach wants you in the game.
- It will challenge you to refresh your heart, your knowledge and your living. When we take steps to intentionally invite someone to church, we often go through a self-evaluation. We think, “Who am I to be inviting anyone to church?! I need to get my own life right before I do something like that.” First of all, that’s a clever rationale, but it holds no air. We should do both. Renew our own relationship with God through prayer, confession and joyful repentance AND invite people to church. If you don’t do both simultaneously, you probably won’t do either.
- It will give the people you invite the opportunity to make a more informed decision about church and Jesus and eternity. Prior to your invitation, they are making assessments based on what they’ve heard, on the media, and other portrayals of religion. Give them an opportunity to rethink things from personal experience and trust God with the process. Consider what C.S. Lewis said about his own experience:
“I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches. . . But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.”
- It will make you see your church in a whole new light, and you can share what you observe. Nothing is better for taking blinders off than when you have a guest present. You realize the welcome and announcement time isn’t done very well. You see misspelled words on the projection screen. You notice that you’re church family actually is (or isn’t) welcoming. You hear the sermon as if it’s your first one. You’re on edge, experiencing everything through the eyes and ears of your guest. It’s a blessing to the church family when you can share your observations and helpful suggestions for improvement (kindly) the following week in a gracious email or phone call.
Which of these reasons stuck out to you as one you’d not considered before? I’m confident you could come up with more reasons to invite someone. What would you add? Leave your input in the comments.