Power to the Pews: The Invitation

Power to the Pews: The Invitation

May 15, 2012 by

This is part four in our series on guerrilla church marketing, Power to the Pews.

If we’re going to get lay people promoting their church we should probably talk about the most obvious way they can do it. It’s kind of scary though. You ready?

Invite people to church.

It sounds obvious, but nobody is doing it. You can pick your stats on this issue, but they’re all pretty depressing. In his book The Unchurched Next Door, Thom Rainer says that only 2% of church people ever invite someone to church (guilty; though I don’t think any of us will be raising the 98% banner). And it’s not clear what we’re afraid of: 82% of the unchurched are somewhat likely to go if someone would just ask them.

It’s like a middle school dance. Everybody wants to dance, but nobody wants to ask.

Why Not?

So if you’re a person in the pew not inviting anyone to church, it’s time to ask why not. Maybe you’re scared they’ll say no, maybe you’re embarrassed of your church, maybe you just don’t think about it. Or maybe like a lot of us in Christian circles, you just don’t have that many unchurched friends you can invite.

I always tell my kids either stop complaining about a problem or fix it. So step one is to figure out the reason and address it.

  • If you’re just scared, find ways to make it less scary. Invite a friend to a special event instead of Sunday morning or find a mutual friend and tag team the invite. Maybe you can try a halfway step and host a non-church event at your church. Board game night at your church gives you plenty of space for Carcassanne, plus your friend is already there and it’s a simple task to invite them back on Sunday. Or you could flip the tables and invite your pastor along to your next karaoke night. The invite gets easier when it’s obvious the pastor isn’t the judgmental, stuffy type.
  • If you’re embarrassed of your church, how come? Is this something you need to get over or is your church that bad? Maybe you need to step up and help your church become less embarrassing (after all, people who sit in the pew and complain are part of the problem).
  • If you don’t think about it, it’s time to start. The great commission didn’t say anything about a social club. Be intentional about it and think of specific people you can start inviting.
  • If you’re lacking unchurched friends, it’s time to make some new friends. Start hanging out with your coworkers or if you work with a bunch of Christians, find some new groups. It may be a little uncomfortable at first and you feel like you have nothing in common. But if that’s the case, you’re too sheltered. You need to broaden your horizons and meet some new people. They need Jesus too. You’re a missionary at happy hour! But please, don’t call yourself that.

You like your church, don’t you? (If not, we’ve got a bigger problem.) Maybe it’s time to start sharing it.

How Can Your Church Help?

Another question to ask is how can your church make it easier to invite people? This is where the church marketing folks reading this series from a distance can jump in and get involved. And if you’re a lay person with no church communication team jumping in to tackle these ideas, maybe this is your role to fill.

  • Create handy invite cards with times and directions. It’s cheaper than you think: You can print 10,000 full-color, two sided business cards for well under $150. Have them available at all times. Not only does it make it easier to invite people, it’s a handy reminder for the people who don’t think about it.
  • Be active on social media. Everybody’s on Facebook and Twitter these days and it’s a lot easier to throw out an invite if you can point to an active Facebook page or Twitter account. It can give a potential visitor that first introduction and they’ll realize that church isn’t so weird.
  • Make sure your service is visitor friendly. Do your people actually welcome visitors or do they scare them away (either from being too friendly or too distant)? Does the service drip with insider lingo and archaic traditions that are never explained? It can be as simple as inviting people to kneel instead of watching the entire congregation drop to their knees as if on invisible cue that leaves the visitor feeling creeped out.

There are a lot of ways your church can help your congregation invite people. Start brainstorming and get to work.

The people in the pews are a ready-made street team for your church. The bodies are there and Jesus gives the motivation (that great commission thing again). We just need to get to work.

The book on church visitors: Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time VisitorsMore:

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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7 Responses to “Power to the Pews: The Invitation”

  • Joel Zehring
    May 15, 2012

    I don’t think the problem for most believers is that they don’t like their churches.

    I think believers know that God wants to use them to advance the Kingdom, and inviting others to church does not feel like advancement.

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    • Kevin D. Hendricks
      May 16, 2012

      Joel, if inviting people to church doesn’t feel like advancing the kingdom, then I think they’re doing church wrong. ;-)

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      • Joel Zehring
        May 18, 2012

        Advancing the Kingdom involves planting the gospel and making disciples in places where Jesus is not yet recognized as Lord. Churches are great places to gather believers for vision-casting/celebration, but the harvest is elsewhere. That’s why Jesus told us to pray for God to send workers into the harvest, because if we don’t pray, the workers don’t go… we just gather with each other over and over.

        I’m still praying through how to flesh this out in my own life, so bear with me… I love skateboarding, and over the past 12 years, I’ve formed some great friendships with people that I’ve met through skateboarding. Lost people. I’m also pretty good at skateboarding, and I’m pretty good at meeting and connecting with new people.

        Option 1: I could try to bring skateboarders that I know to the church where my wife and I attend… and they’d stick out like sore thumbs. Not only that, the whole vibe wouldn’t make sense to them. Maybe 1 out of 20 would assimilate to become a “churched” Christian, but the majority would be done after one visit. I have seen this happen first hand.

        Option 2: I could pray over the skatepark near my house one morning each week. Assuming God opens the door, I could return one evening each week to skate and offer prayer to any interested skateboarders. God might raise up a person of peace who’s receptive to the gospel and well-liked and well-connected in the local scene. This person of peace might trust Jesus and become a disciple, learning to listen to Jesus and obey and make other disciples as Jesus commissioned. This is how a church might start at a skatepark.

        As other skateboarders (or anyone around the skatepark) trust Jesus, those people are sent to other parks and skate spots to make disciples.

        Removing these believers from the harvest at the height of their effectiveness so that they could “go to church” would be a critical mistake and significantly stunt or even extinguish God’s work.

        Option 3: God advances his kingdom in a totally different way, and I’m lucky enough to obey.

        That’s an example of advancement, inspired by stories that I’ve read and heard. Hopefully it’s also inspired by God, but I need to pray some more to discern that.

        Nothing wrong with skateboarder Christians gathering with other believers in any other community… especially to tell stories from the front lines and celebrate God’s great work. But then, that’s a whole different gathering than what we’re currently used to now. I’m not sure churched Christians would know what to do in a gathering like that.


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  • Bryan
    May 17, 2012

    I wonder if it’s more about lack of proximity. Lots of us drive considerable distances to work and don’t really see it as a reasonable option to invite people to our church… >30 minutes away.

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  • Wesley
    May 23, 2012

    Joel, your idea is interesting but does not exclude attending a gathering of the local church. All disciples of Christ go out into the harvest fields everyday but many fail to see the potential. You see that potential but fail to see the potential of the gathering of the local church in the lives of the people who embrace the Gospel at the skate park. They still need the community of the local church and they need the challenges of relating to people that they do not relate to naturally in community. The fact that your skater friends are different from the people in the church you attend is a good thing because it challenges them and those in the congregation that you attend to exhibit Christ’s character as they fellowship and grow together.

    I would suggest both. They should be encouraged to skate and meet skaters they can share the Gospel with and then bring them into the local community of believers to make disciples of them while encouraging them to go out to the skate park and repeat the process. Soon you will find that you have a church that looks more like a church should with all people from all socioeconomic groups learning and growing and living and evangelizing and serving together.

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  • Rick DLR
    May 23, 2012

    My church is in a rural town of around 5,500 and personal invites is how we have grown from 90 to 325. We have 2 services on Sunday. And the people we have where all brought by sombody else. News paper adds, postors, radio have given us zero reults only personal invites. We also made post cards with QR codes that connect to our facebook and web page and every Sunday we put one in the bulinten and encourage our people to invite. Great article keep up the good work

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  • Paul
    July 13, 2015

    One of the biggest problems I have seen is too many modern day American churches are not obeying the Bible. They believe in the Bible, they just don’t obey it. We have run a series for months on areas the modern day American church is disobeying the Bible. They pick and choose parts of the Bible that benefits them, and then ignore parts that are not in their favor. I know plenty of people who refuse to go to self centered, self absorbed churches that are all about how you can serve them.

    Things like tithing is done against what the Bible teaches. Church membership is not Biblically done. Salvation is all that is needed for membership, not some contract that promises everything to a building. Jesus taught against that. They act like corporations and then get baffled when that turns off people. The Bible condemns not paying workers (James 5:4), and the modern day American church does that in abundance. Some churches are spending more on their landscaping and buildings than on actually helping people. The focus is on self in too many of these churches and not on following God.

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