There’s a lot of talk these days about taking the church to the unchurched (missional) instead of expecting the unchurched to come to church (attractional). I understand what’s behind this, but does it have to be either/or? We desire to see our members walking out their faith where they live and work and play. We want them to “be the church, not merely go to church”. Also, we don’t want our people to abdicate their responsibility to share their faith by relying on their pastor to do it for them on Sunday morning. Fair enough, but I still believe that inviting a friend to church is a legitimate expression of personal evangelism.
People continue to respond to invitations to come to church. Ed Stetzer’s recent study discovered that 63% would respond favorably to an invitation from a friend or neighbor to come to church. Chances are the majority of the members in your church are there because someone invited them, they came, they liked it, they stayed. In addition to this, a large percentage of believers say they became Christians by responding to the gospel message or to an invitation made in church. There’s nothing wrong with training your people to be inviters and includers with a specific emphasis on inviting their friends, relatives, and co-workers to church. Inviting someone to church is not the only way to do personal evangelism, but it is a way. If you are going to create inviters and includers then you’ll need to do eight things:
1. You have to model it. When was the last time you invited someone to church? Remember, you reproduce what you are.
2. You have to pound the concept into them, altering their mental DNA. You have to talk about being inviters and includers over and over and over again.
3. You have to provide something relevant and safe for them to invite people to. Somehow discover a way to objectively determine if your Sunday morning service feels relevant and safe to visitors. Relevance can be achieved without compromise.
4. You have to celebrate victories. Remember, every time someone invites someone to church it is a victory regardless if the one invited comes or not.
5. You have to be committed to this for the long-haul. Altering the DNA of your people, creating inviters and includers, takes time.
6. You must not be afraid to present the gospel. Develop a streamlined version of the plan of salvation that you can share in two minutes or less. One advantage of sharing the gospel on Sunday mornings is that your regulars end up learning what the gospel message is.
7. You must not be afraid to ask for a decision. It doesn’t matter if you ask for a show of hands, or to sign a card, or come forward, or whatever…what matters is that you give them an opportunity to respond. I know that raising ones hand is no guarantee the person has truly been converted, but leave that to God.
8. You must have a plan for follow up. Somehow, someway you need to have a way to make contact with those who visit your church or make a decision for Christ. It’s always amazing to me when I hear of a church that has no follow up plan. Remember, Jesus said, “You have not because you follow up not.” No, not really.