An encouraging study by Lifeway Research found that two-thirds of churchgoers invited someone to church in the last six months.[i] When was the last time you invited someone to church? What would it look like for you to increase those efforts?
Inviting someone to church isn’t, of course, a substitute for evangelism, but it sure is a great partner in our evangelistic efforts. Similar to our homes, our churches ought to be a place that, while they are primarily for the gathered body of Christ, are also always welcoming to the outsider.
Diana Davis had an excellent post at Lifeway that spurred me to consider ways that I can better engage those God has put in my life with the gospel and be more active in inviting them to church.[ii] I’ve tweaked and whittled her list of 52 down to 17. They are a good challenge for me, and I hope they will be for you as well.
1. Walk your dog. Jog. Stroll. Walk to your mailbox instead of stopping at it in your car. Rhythms of availability are important in creating in-roads for relationships with your neighbors. There is no easier way to say hi than with your dog on a leash, or with mail in hand.
2. Spend time in your front yard. Water your plants, sit on the porch, do projects, play with your kids. Visit with neighbors who walk by, get to know them, and invite them to church.
3. Plan a neighborhood gathering to get to know your neighbors. It could be a cookout in the yard, a dinner, an ice cream or watermelon party. Play corn hole or volleyball, or just put out lawn chairs and hang out. Give each guest an invitation when they leave.
4. Regularly attend local sports events, such as Little League, high school, college, professional, baseball, softball, football, soccer, etc. Tailgate, cheer, have fun! Get to know other spectators. Invite them to your church.
5. Each time you go to the church building, click “check in” on your Facebook account. Also, “like” your church’s Facebook page and it will show on your news feed. Friends notice!
6. Your personal social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) offers a great way to invite people. Post a photo, tell a story about how church impacts your life, link to the church website, or say “Join us Sunday at 10!” You never know who is reading.
7. Forward the event info or repost the invite from your church website or Facebook page to invite a friend to a church service or event. Don’t assume that a standing invitation will be met with a yes: circle back with specific invitations.
8. 52. Add an extra line under your personal email automatic signature. It might say “Check out my awesome church: [link to your church’s website]. Join me there next Sunday?”
9. Invite someone while you’re on the way to church. A neighbor getting his newspaper, an acquaintance at the donut shop, a student you pass in the dorm. Be ready.
10. Join or volunteer in a community organization, or take a class, with the intention to invite new acquaintances to church. The group could be the PTO, a book club, a business or a community group, a sports team, a class at the gym, a college class, etc.
11. Deliver a welcome gift and church invitation to new move-ins in your community. Subscribe to a service or ask members to call if they see someone moving into their neighborhood. A volunteer delivers a welcome packet and homemade goodies or gift.
12. Coach a kids’ ball team, represent Jesus well, and conclude the season with a backyard cookout. Invite kids’ families to join you for church, and sit together as a group.
13. Plan play-dates with your children’s friends and parents. Invite them to church, and plan to meet for burgers nearby afterward. Get your children involved. They can invite friends to church just as well as you!
14. Get to know your child’s schoolteacher, coach, or physician. Invite him or her to your home for a casual dinner. If they don’t have a church, invite them to yours.
15. Host “First Day, Moms/Dads Pray” coffee on the first day of school. Invite other moms/dads to the half-hour prayer for kids and teachers, then moms/dads hang around for coffee, snacks, and fellowship. Provide a personal invite to your church.
16. Arrange a van to provide pickup for students at a nearby university. Get permission to post a sign in freshmen dorms as they move in and give a number they can text for a lift to worship.
17. Talk about your church in everyday conversations—on the bus, in the break-room, at the park, in the coffee shop, in an Uber, the grocery line, the waiting room. Just chat and invite naturally.
As God puts people in your life, will you intentionally invite them? Jesus commands his followers to bring lost people to know Him. You have a unique circle of influence, and your personal invitation can influence them toward Jesus. Be an inviter!