Recently I read an article about Why Church Members Don’t Invite Others to Church. I thought the article was interesting and the reason why people don’t invite others to church were probably accurate, but I think there should be a different focus. Here’s what I mean.
Inviting people to church, or to any “membership” is an organizational concern, not a community concern. Organizations measure the numbers – how many people are coming in the doors?
I have a thought about why people don’t invite others to church – they are embarrassed in some way. All the reasons listed in the article are true and if you really look at them, they come done to someone being embarrassed about some aspect of church. If you are embarrassed about something, then you certainly aren’t going to invite someone else to come. In other words, if you aren’t completely sold on something yourself, then you sure aren’t going to try to sell that same thing to others.
People will come to church, through invitation or any other way when church is relevant to the people showing up. Inviting others won’t be this convoluted thing that gets focused on – it will be more natural. It will just come up in the midst of a conversation and be a natural part of the conversation. It shouldn’t be something that feels unnatural.
How does this happen – it’s about relationships and conversations. Do we invest time getting to know the person we are talking with? Do we know what their spiritual needs are? Do we know what our own spiritual needs are? Is the person we are talking with struggling to fill the emptiness within them? Are they broken in some way? Can we accompany them? Can the church accompany them?
Here’s the thing, if we focus our attention on getting people to invite other people to church, most people are going to have a vast number of excuses why they can’t. The biggest unspoken reason will be that it will feel like they are trying to sell church to someone and most people don’t like selling – so it will never happen.
But if the focus is on the relationship with the person – then things change. If church really impacts your life, you are bound to bring it up in a conversation at some point. This is a sign that what goes on in church has a real impact in your life. If not, it really isn’t impacting your life and I would bet is not relevant to your life. At that point, why would you talk about church, let alone invite someone else.
It’s not about having all the answers about church, or selling church. It’s about the relationship – your relationship with God, your relationship with others and your relationship with yourself, relationship with church. These are all broken in some way, so it’s not about having great relationships, but rather honest relationships. When honesty reigns, then the focus and the conversations change.
So, if you want to get more people in your church inviting others to church, stop focusing on how to invite people – focus on why. When we ask why, truth starts to come out, as scary as it is. We may even learn that a larger church is more our own ego concern, rather than God’s intention for a church.