Originally written for Shepherd of the Ridge Lutheran Church, apply these ideas to your local context.
First off, let me throw some statistics at you. According to a recent survey, as many as 96% of “unchurched” people are at least somewhat likely to attend a church service if invited by someone with whom they have an established relationship, a friend, coworker, etc. At the same time, only 21% of active church-goers invite anyone to church over the course of a year. In addition, 70% of the unchurched say nobody has ever invited them! And one more statistic from that study: “For the vast majority of the unchurched, the church is still relevant today. Indeed many of them perceive the church to be the most relevant institution in society today.”
Now, let’s do a little math. Our average Sunday attendance is right around 90 and has been for at least the past 10 years. I bet all of you, if you think about it, could think of at least three friends or coworkers, probably more, who don’t attend a Christian church on a regular basis. Some of those, should they accept your invitation, will bring spouses or families. So if we shoot low and assume at least 2/3 will accept the invitation and, on average, bring one additional family member (some are single, but some have kids, so it averages out), that’s 90 x 2/3 x 2 = 120 visitors per year in addition to those who find the church through other means. If half of those friends are willing to come more than once (Don’t stop with the once!), that’s 160 per year. In short, that means we should see, at the very least, an average attendance spike of 3+ visitors per week. Even at that bare minimum rate, we’ll be up to an average attendance of 130 in just 10 years, and that’s not counting any other evangelism programs we implement during that time.
All that said, I firmly believe that many of you have more than 3 unchurched friends. On any given week, about 10% of the town attends a service somewhere. That means that, of your 10 closest friends, 9 are home on Sunday morning, waiting for you to invite them.
So here’s what I’d like everyone, young and old, adult or child, to do:
- Make a list of all your friends and coworkers with whom you have a personal relationship.
- Cross off anyone that you know attends a Christian church regularly.
- Who’s left? See if you can come up with twelve separate households.
- Write their names on a calendar, one per month. If you have less than 12, just fill in the first part of the year until you run out. Maybe God will provide someone else to be added to the end of the year.
- Each month, make a point of inviting that person. Offer to drive. Kids, ask your parents about having a Saturday night sleepover, then bring your friend to church and Sunday School the next day.
The Fine Print
- Following this will not make you a better Christian. It will not make God love you more. (He couldn’t possibly love you more than He already does.)
- This is not about numbers. In fact, if your friend is a member of a Christian church but just doesn’t attend, if you think they’d be more willing, offer to go to their church with them! This is about bringing people to hear the Gospel so the Holy Spirit can give faith and eternal life to your friend.
- You cannot do anything to create faith in your friend. Only the Holy Spirit does that, but He works through the Gospel, so your job is simply to bring the soil to the seed and watch God make it grow.
- Make sure to answer any questions about what to wear or anything else. Let them know you’ll sit with them and answer any questions they have. Many people don’t come simply because they’re intimidated and worry that they won’t know what to do, so let them know that we put step-by-step directions in everyone’s hands.
- If your friend isn’t comfortable with a service, keep an eye on the church calendar for picnics, movie nights, Bible studies, or other activities to help them connect with a church community and help them see that these are friendly, fun-loving, non-judgmental people.
God has put us here in the middle of a hurting world, and He has given us the Cure. The more we share it, the more our joy increases. May your year be filled with the joy of a life lived as a forgiven and eternal child of God.