Your Church’s Best Publicity Ever
“86% of first time visitors to worship are there because a disciple in your church invited them”
US Congregational Life Survey
Let this statistic sink in for a moment…..86%.
Not because the pastor invited them (6% are, so pastors should invite!), not because of your excellent website, not because of your location, not because of your updated building, not because of your new LED sign out front, not because of your marketing campaign…..These help, making their contribution, small as it is. 86% of newcomers are there because of the contagious faith of your people.
Because the disciples in your church want their family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances to experience what they are experiencing in their church….because of this, they invite people to worship with them. Now, we recognize that visiting a worship service may be a later step for newcomers when it comes to engaging a new church in these “post-Christendom” days. They are more likely to first participate in a missional endeavor or in a small group gathering or in a church social event. Eventually they make their way to a worship service (high participatory bar which intimidates many who are unfamiliar with church). Nevertheless, whenever they walk through the door of a worship space for the first time in your church, it’s most often because someone they know invited them to do so.
So, this raises several vitally important questions, with one standing head and shoulders above the others. “Why are/aren’t people inviting others to worship with your church?” We could write a boatload of articles on why people aren’t inviting others to church, yet let’s go with the reverse. There are churches wherein disciples are inviting others to join them in worship, as well as in their church life in general. When do they do this?
When they are caught up in a movement
I’m working to eliminate the word “Christianity” from my vocabulary. Instead, when referring to our faith I usually refer to this “Christian Movement.” My intention is to communicate to myself and to others that Jesus began a spiritual movement that swept across that part of the world. Now we are way downstream from that first gush of Jesus-filled current, yet we still are living in the flow of God’s movement as expressed through Jesus Christ. When we are caught up in this powerful current, we are swept into a movement which we can’t help but share. Disciples in churches invite others to join them when they are part of something that’s going somewhere really good.
When they are changed by this movement
Certainly God loves and accepts us as we are, yet God also loves us too much to leave us as we are. Disciples invite others to join them in their church when they are transformed into better versions of themselves as a result of participating in said church. So churches who find ways to cultivate transformation, personal growth and development reflecting the Way of Jesus, discover that our faith story is life-giving. The energy rising from personal transformation; when a person is changed for the better, can’t be contained. Disciples in churches where personal transformation is part of the mix find themselves talking about it and inviting others to taste and see.
When the movement is changing the world as they know it
Does your faith story have the power to change this culture…THIS culture, the one with so much division and hate, toward the better? When it does, when the gospel infiltrates a community through our church’s presence and efforts, then we know we are part of something worth sharing. I believe the Christian story contains the power to bridge the divides, to overcome hate with love, and to heal the brokenness rampant in our communities. We pray the kingdom will come to earth like it is in heaven. People caught up in God’s kingdom activity want others to join them.
So, rather than pour most of our effort into the activities which yield so very little in terms of involving new persons, perhaps it’s time to double-down on the essentials. All those other activities may help, but a compelling faith is far more motivating than anything else we do when it comes to involving new people in church. Do we know and believe living in the Way of Jesus is our and this world’s greatest hope? Let’s join God’s movement, diving in head first, immersing ourselves in streams of living water. Then inviting others to join us in our movement-oriented and life-giving church becomes so natural we can do it in our sleep.