Invitation to church, to follow Christ, to experience his Love is at the core of the Christian faith. We must invite friends. We must invite family. We must invite neighbors. We must invite people we meet. Don’t ever forget that the church must invite.
Jesus built the church on invitation. He invited disciples to follow him. He invited people to experience his message. He invited people to know God. He gave little invitations such as, “whoever hears this story needs to put the words into practice” and he gave big invitations, “go, sell all you have and…”.
As I was leading music at the 10:35 service (the newest of our four Sunday morning services) this past Sunday, I saw two totally new people come and receive communion. I learned later they were friends of another family. It’s amazing how invitations work. That service is growing! I’m grateful – our church is grateful – to have so many people during this season invite and respond to invitation.
INVITE PEOPLE TO CHURCH
We must invite people to church. Leaders must continue to remind people to invite. Youth workers must build a culture of students inviting other students. Children’s workers must help kids invite friends. Always create space for new people. Don’t become content with who is already there – reach out to those who also need to be there. Celebrate when children and students bring friends. Use all available means to invite people. Make sure you include an invitation to “invite friend and family” in your church publications, on the Sunday program or in other ways. Purchase cards with your church name and worship times. Make the website easy to find, with times and directions front and center. Put “Welcome to Worship” on your church sign. Invite people to church! The world around us needs the good news of Jesus in their lives. Church members, church leaders, students and kids all need to grow in the culture of inviting. Make it part of your life and routine. The more you do it, the more natural and easy it becomes.
MAKE IT EASY
Make it easy for your church to invite people. At the end of a worship service, Sunday school or student ministry event, get into the habit of saying, invite friend to come with you next week. Create invitations on Facebook and other social media. Create other simple marketing tools, such as cards, bookmarks or yard signs. Create events and special reasons for your people to invite. Highlight particular events that it would be great to invite people and let your church know. Create incentives for children and student ministry for when they bring friends. Have a special Sunday for inviting friends and neighbors. Celebrate when people bring a friend or invite friends. Celebrate when people share an invitation post on social media. Make it easy for people to invite.
DON’T THINK TOO HARD ABOUT IT
As Rick Warren once said, “Increasing the size of your church is simple: you just have to invite people”.
There is no one magic formula for invitation – it can be as creative, simple and natural as every other conversation and connection you have. It can be done online, on social media, through email or text. Invitations can be done outdoors, indoors, over coffee, etc. They can be silent invitations (such as a shirt that bears the name of the church) or they can be verbal (a comment about, “we did that once at our church…”). Building a culture of invitation doesn’t require formality. It doesn’t require a committee. It’s about a joy that comes from sharing the Good News of Christ with our friends and neighbors.
DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOUR CHURCH IS PERFECT
Your church, your children’s ministry or your student ministry doesn’t have to be perfect or huge to get a culture of invitation going. Every one loves to be invited. People love invitations. Just jump in and start inviting people to what you have to offer – the message of hope found in Christ. If you’re waiting to get everyone you currently have connected “right” you will become inward focused and it will be difficult to move forward with invitation. The best time to start inviting it now. Amazingly, inviting more people is often the catalyst to help your church become stronger.
INVITING IS FOR EVERYONE
Every disciple, every believer, ever attender is a candidate for inviting. Most of the time, it’s the newest people in the church who do most of the inviting. We can’t assume the pastor or other church leaders are responsible for invitation. Everyone needs to invite. You don’t need formal training or credentials to invite someone to church. Kids can invite their friends to Sunday School or a special children’s ministry outreach. Students can invite their friends to a special event. Adults can invite neighbors and friends to worship, an outreach, a concert or a small group.
INVITE PEOPLE TO GO DEEPER
In addition to inviting people to church, we must also invite church people to go deeper. Look around your church – who can you personally invite to a new class, a new ministry a new position or role? Who needs to go deeper in faith through a small group? Who needs contacted to help with a new ministry? Invite people to go deeper and don’t wait too long. We often wait too long to plug someone into ministry in churches. There are roles for everyone – invite them in.
NEVER GIVE UP
We must never give up extending invitations. We must never underestimate the power of a simple invitation. Jesus has never given up extending the invitation to the lost and hurting world. The church must follow suit. Our confidence for living an invitational life comes because of the one who invited us.
Jesus was always about invitation. You and your church must invite, invite, invite!