December 13, 2013
By Phil Maynard
Don’t miss the opportunity of the Christmas Season. This is one of three or four times a year (seasonally) when people are most open to an invitation to church.
It’s no secret. Most churches (somewhere around 80%) are plateaued or in decline when it comes to participation in worship. Leadership teams all across the country sit and bemoan the fact that fewer people, and certainly fewer younger people and fewer non-Christian people, are coming to church. They often ask, “What can we do to turn this around?”
My first question is, “Who have you asked to come to church with you in the last month?” For some reason leadership teams are often surprised by the question. It never occurred to them that this is a responsibility of every disciple.
Current research indicates that for those who are unchurched, somewhere between 60–80% responded that they would come to church if someone invited them.
However, the church has a role in supporting the regular attenders in inviting their friends, relatives, associates (work), and neighbors. Some churches provide members with business cards that include the worship times and directions to the church. Many churches provide postcards with information about a new sermon series or seasonal focus that regular attenders can use to invite friends.
Doug Anderson, in his book The Race to Reach Out, shares a seasonal focus approach used by Joe Harding:
- A few weeks before the invitational focus of the season, 3×5 cards are distributed to the congregation.
- Each participant is asked to write down the names of 5 people they would like to see come to worship.
- Participants are encouraged to take the cards home and display them in a prominent place where they would be reminded to pray daily for the people named on the cards.
- A couple of weeks prior to the invitational focus event, participants are encouraged to extend an invitation.
- In worship the participants are asked to, by a show of hands, be accountable for praying for and making the invitation.
The result was an increase of 50% on these invitational Sundays and a congregation that experienced significant long-term growth. (9)
The key to personal invitations is that they are personal—face-to-face if possible—and focused on “come with” rather than “come sometime.”
PS: Are you looking for some more great ideas for doing church well? Check out Phil’s book: Shift: Helping Congregations Back into the Game of Effective Ministry. Go to www.shift-book.com for more information. Get a great discount when you order 10 or more copies for your team.