Invite a Friend

October 2, 2008 by

This past June, my son turned four. We had a birthday party for him and invited all of his friends (well maybe not all, but a lot) to his party. I cooked hamburgers, hot dogs and sausage on the grill, and the kids were playing games and having a really good time.

We had the party on a Saturday afternoon, which seems to be a normal time to have a birthday party for kids. Funny thing is, the following Saturday my son did not have any of his friends come to the house. There were no grilling and no presents. No cake and ice cream. Nothing. Why not?

Well the reason is really simple when you think about it. Nobody was invited! I did not send out invitations, announcements or make phone call invitations. Simply put, his friends were not invited back.

Which brings me to this month’s lesson. How often are you inviting people in your community to church? And for those you do invite, do you follow up with them on a regular basis to continue to invite them back?

Think about that from your visitor’s stand point. If they get invited to church, but they never get invited back, they may be hurt by that. Have a system in place where every visitor gets contacted after they attend services with you. But don’t just contact them after the first visit, contact them after the second and third. You’ll be amazed, and so will your visitors.

Maybe in the coming months, you can host an “invite a friend drive” in your church. Don’t forget, we are not saved to sit, we are saved to serve. Let us all be great servants of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Post By:

Shane Boyd

Shane Boyd is a deacon of a church and has been a member for over six years. He is an outreach consultant who helps churches grow from the inside out.
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5 Responses to “Invite a Friend”

  • Jeremy
    October 2, 2008

    I don’t know if I see it this way.
    With a party, it’s pretty well implied it’s a one-time thing. With a church, I think visitors know what you’ll be doing next Sunday. The issue to me isn’t that visitors aren’t sought after, it’s that they aren’t connecting in a meaningful way. Instead of focusing on the initial invite, it’d be better to focus on helping visitors meet people (people who don’t already have a full circle of friends) and develop relationships.
    As a frequent visitor, it honestly irritates me to be commodified. I’m not saying that’s what you mean, just that it’s a common attitude I’ve seen.

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  • Peter
    October 2, 2008

    I agree with the conclusion, but your analogy is a little flawed unless you intentionally held a party but didn’t tell anyone about it. If you weren’t hosting games, grilling, cake, ice cream, etc the next Saturday then there are multiple reasons why nobody showed up, not the least of which is that you weren’t holding an event at which they could show up.
    I definitely agree that we need to be persistent in invitations, but if you don’t actually have something to which they can show up, then invitations are pointless. On a related note, I forgot to take off the Evening Service time on our website and had someone show up. :P We had switched to discipleship groups (on campus, but different time) and this person didn’t know. I felt really bad about that but this ties in slightly – the invitation was extended, virtually, but there was nothing to attend.

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  • Roland Thomas Gilbert
    October 2, 2008

    I’m all for inviting friends (first-time guests) back. But very much of it tends to create a “needy friend” syndrome that you definitely DO NOT want to convey either.
    Yes, let’s bombard them with calls and visits and gifts and calls and gifts. That’ll make ’em like us more and come back. [tongue firmly planted in cheek]. It’s like saying, “PLEEEZE be my friend…”
    How about designing our services in ways that compel them to return on their own even WITHOUT an invitation. Make them WANT to come back again and again and again. I’d be interested in exploring that method of interaction.

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  • Clarke
    October 3, 2008

    As a full time marketing professional and former pastor I have to say that I think Shane is right on – and I’m really puzzled by some of the responses to his column.
    One of the most powerful experiences we ever had was with a large church that sent us a handwritten note thanking us for being there after the first Sunday we visited.
    Jeremy’s comment that “visitors know what you’ll be doing next Sunday” may be true but isn’t it also likely that they knew what you were doing the Sunday before they chose to visit? It takes a lot of guts for someone to take that risk and if you want them to come back a second time it seems to me that you have to let them know that they were noticed and valued, and you want them to come back.
    Roland’s comments are even more puzzling. Do we really think that too much inviting creates a “needy friend” syndrome? If that’s the case, I feel really sorry for all of those silly corporations that are constantly inviting us to try their products, eat in their restaurants and visit their stores, they sure are needy!
    It takes time to change people’s habits, we need to invite them over and over again until they understand that we really want them there.

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  • Roland Thomas Gilbert
    October 3, 2008

    Hey Shane,
    And thank YOU for your comment on “Jesus Is a Hard Sell.” I went back over and re-read my comment to your post on Church Marketing Sucks. I wouldn’t have exactly categorized it as “positive feedback.” Hey, I’m only human. Please accept my apology.
    My frame of reference is from a pastor friend of mine who let me on to the notion of the “needy friend” syndrome. The church where he is on staff, who’ll remain nameless, has an annoying habit of constantly calling its visitors at least once a month for about six months after a visit. This is after they’ve already hand-delivered a bag of chips and salsa and sent a “thank you for visiting” card with response postcard.
    From his observation, there’s RARELY [I won’t say “never”] any evidence of these efforts actually retaining visitors and turning them into active members. It actually does more to put people off than bring people back. I will also say that this may be only characteristic of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and would apply differently to different regions of the US and the world.
    I still stand by my position: How about designing our services in ways that compel them to return on their own even WITHOUT an invitation. Make them WANT to come back again and again and again. I’d be interested in exploring that method of interaction.
    Glad to know you, Shane, and I am looking forward to gleaning from your insights and experience. Next time you’re in Dallas, we need to do coffee.

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