I recently had the privilege of preaching at 3 churches’ services where the aim had been for the church to invite friends, family and neighbours who do not usually go to the church, along. They had been encouraged to think about their relationships, build relationships and pray for those people in the months beforehand.
It is fair to say, all 3 churches struggled to get those people to the services. All in all, there was about a handful of people who did not usually attend church at them. It was great to have the opportunity to preach the gospel to the churches (shouldn’t we always preach it to at least some extent?); it was great to remind ourselves of that good news (I always think good is too much of an understatement there). But it was not the primary aim of those services.
It made me think: when was the last time I invited someone to church? A long time ago. Yes, we are to go and tell people (Matthew 28 v 19, 20) but also to invite people to come and see (John 1 v 46).
So why don’t we invite people to church more?
- We’re too scared to ask.
- We’re too embarrassed to ask.
- They might say no – we don’t want to be rejected.
- They might say yes – and actually see what our church is like!
- We don’t think about doing it – we are too pre – occupied.
- We don’t think it is important to do it – it’s not our thing.
- They’ve said no before.
- They’d say no again.
- It would be too big a step for people.
- It would be irrelevant for people.
The last two reasons might be true for people. If we think that, the question then becomes what could we invite them to: coffee? Dinner? Quiz night? Helping in Community cafe? Building relationships that show and share life and faith leads to questions and discussions that an invitation to church more naturally leads onto. Moments of personal crisis or sudden spiritual awareness can bypass this somewhat.
But the rest of the reasons are really excuses we make to ourselves. Jesus is not too impressed with excuses when it comes to important invites (Luke 14 v 16 – 21). We’ve all got experience I am sure of having invites turned down. It will happen with inviting people who don’t usually go to church to church – they won’t be used to going to church in their routine, lots of other things will compete for that time slot.
Choose wisely – an occasion that might resonate with them e.g. Remembrance Sunday; a theme that they might be interested in e.g. politics or a speaker they might like e.g. one used to communicating with people who are not Christians.
Sow generously (Gal 6 v 7) – if you don’t ask you don’t get usually.
Pray continually (1 Thess 5 v 16).
P.S. I am now off to invite someone to church.
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