Anything having to do with religion or the church can be really uncomfortable for most people to talk about. Maybe the only experiences people in your church have ever had with talking about church or inviting someone are downright painful.
So, rather than reliving an uncomfortable experience, they do nothing. They shy away. Not because they don’t want to invite people to your church, but because they don’t know how.
Instead of getting upset with your people, this is a great opportunity to teach them how to invite. This doesn’t have to be a weird thing. And you have the chance to show your people that. Inviting can become a normal part of your church’s life.
Here are five simple ways you can create a culture of invitation within your church.
1. Make Sunday service your priority.
The reason this is so important is not to make your church look great, but to create an environment guests want to come back to. You don’t have to have fancy lights and a rockstar worship team to do this either.
You just need people who care about people.
If your pastor cares about people, he will preach gospel-centered sermons. If your staff cares about people, they’ll strive their best in their individual ministry areas. And when your church cares about people, they will want others to experience a Sunday at your church because it adds value to their life and personal faith.
If you need further help with this, here are five practical ways you can improve your weekend services.
But anyone can invite someone. How do you get someone to want to come back?
2. Practice hospitality.
It is easy to say your church is friendly. It is another to actually be warm and inviting to people who have never stepped foot in your building.
People want to feel seen, heard and like they matter. And it is so easy to do this!
The best way to lead is by example.
Look around on a Sunday morning and ask: Who is standing around your lobby alone? Is anyone looking around or up at signs to try to figure out where to go? They’re likely new. And that’s a great opportunity for you to go up and greet them personally. You don’t have to ask for them to commit to membership on the spot—just welcome them and ask about them and what brought them to your church.
A great way to encourage others to have a warm and inviting mentality is to make personal asks. Something like…
“Hey Laura, I haven’t seen that woman in our cafe before. I think she’s a new guest. I think you are very approachable and would be a great person for her to connect with. Would you mind connecting with her?”
This is one of the most powerful strategies you can use to encourage and develop your existing members as leaders and to create that culture of inviting without adding shame or guilt to the mix.
3. Be completely present.
Recently, due to some serious health issues, I hadn’t made it to church in about a month or so. I was so excited to finally be feeling well again and to be back together with other believers, worshipping in song, and learning more of God’s Word from my pastor.
I came back to a few unsympathetic “it’s been a while” remarks and some people who greeted me, but looked like they were in a hurry and weren’t interested in talking to me. I felt unseen, unheard and unimportant. And this was a place I was on staff at one point! I considered these people my family.
Imagine that being a guest at your church.
What reason would they have to come back?
People notice when you are glancing at your phone, your watch, someone else or are hurriedly rushing through a conversation. You make time for the things that are important and people can sense when they are not important to you. That’s not to say there aren’t times where you have a lot going on and that happens—we’re human. But there are far more grown adults who still are on their phones in the middle of a meal with others than those who are not. This is not OK.
Let’s get practical. How do we avoid doing this when we have so much on our plate? Here are some tips:
- Learn to listen. Listening is much more than hearing someone talk. Forbes has 10 great steps to learn to become an effective listener. People will come back to someone they feel listened by.
- Let someone completely finish what they are saying before adding in what you have to say.
- Be aware of your body language. Are your feet pointed toward the door? Are you being attentive? Nodding while the person is talking? Does the other person notice you are listening to what they are saying or is it like they are talking to a wall?
- Are you dialed in to what the other person is feeling? Are you empathetic to what the other person is experiencing, even if you can’t fully relate to what they are going through?
- Are you giving the other person the gift of unhurried time?
You can always ask a trusted friend (or spouse) how they feel like you listen and then to evaluate you using some of these new techniques. Even the best listener can always work on becoming a better one.
4. Be involved.
Here’s what I mean.
It’s easier than ever to not have to leave your house. You can get groceries to delivered to your house, have your close friends over to watch a college football game, and continue to get into the same routine with the same people. We’re not against this, but try broadening out.
Here are some ways you can try to broaden your horizons:
- Instead of forming an IM soccer team with your church, grab one or two friends and join an existing team.
- Take a group exercise class to meet new people.
- Take your dog to the dog park or dog events to meet other pet owners.
- Get to know the local businesses in your area. You can build great relationships with them and even partner with them to do an event.
- Volunteer at high school events to give parents a break to be able to actually watch their kids at their sport or performing art.
- Partner with an event your city does every year (this could be anything from an Easter Egg Hunt to a local concert).
- Go to local bookstore readings to get to know the literary scene better.
The great part about this is you don’t have to go out of your way to “evangelize.” People can tell when they’re a project and that’s not how you want to come across.
If you get involved in your city in things you already have an interest in, it becomes very natural to build relationships with people. And once they can see that you are a normal person that likes the same things that they do, you may completely change their perception of the local church. A little intentionality goes a long way.
5. Teach your people how to invite.
Most pastors assume their people know how to invite, but this may be foreign to some people.
You can talk through some of the points we’ve mentioned in this article to your church. If you don’t want to do this during a sermon (which we think is perfectly normal), you can mention these during member meetings, volunteer trainings and small groups.
Andy Stanley also mentions to North Point regulars that they should look for three cues. When they are talking to someone else and they hear one of these three sentences:
- Things are NOT going well…
- I was NOT prepared for…
- I am NOT from here…
Then that clues them in that that is a great opportunity to invite. You can point these out to your church as well.
Elevation Church also created graphics for their church to share on social media. This is a great and easy way to have your church share what is going on in your church on social media. You can even encourage people to tweet during the service!
Choose one of these action steps to begin creating a culture of invitation in your church today. What will you work on? Let us know.
This article originally appeared here.