People visit your church prompted by a variety of reasons such as:
- A positive message on social media
- A crisis in their family
- The Holy Spirit's stirring
- A mailer to their home
- The reputation of your pastor's messages
- Their desire for a Christian influence for their kids
But for at least the last 50 years, there is still nothing that beats ...
7. Invited by a friend.
Because that is true, it's vitally important to pay attention to the reasons people do and don't invite their friends to your church.
People do invite their friends for some more obvious, visible and known reasons that are positive about your church. For example, a strong student ministry or great preaching.
Your raving fans talk about what they like, so these reasons are easier to know and continue to cultivate.
Here are two intriguing thoughts:
- Typically, only a small number of people are highly verbal about what they don't like, and the irony is they usually stay at your church.
- The people who are loyal, but not fully happy with your church, (hopefully that's not a lot of people), keep it to themselves. They stay for now because they are loyal but are at high risk to quietly leave.
The unique angle in this post focuses on those loyal people who stay at your church. They may stay for many reasons from close friends and ministry relationships, to their kids love it. They stay at your church but no longer invite their friends.
These five reasons will offer you insights that can serve as a catalyst for a turning point in your ministry. This turning point can help inspire your congregation to begin to invite their friends.
The primary principle is this:
People invite their friends because they love their church, they're proud of it, and they have experienced spiritual life change.
The following are five of the most common reasons that are not easy to see but prevent people from inviting their friends.
5 Reasons: Are any true of your church?
1. They are not proud of your worship service.
Your worship service is good but not great. The people love your leadership, and they care about the church, so the worship service is "good enough" for them, but not good enough to invite their friends. This is a common situation.
It's up to you as the leader(s) to get courageously honest about your worship service. Perhaps bring in a coach or consultant to help you see what you can't see.
Don't worry about perfection; focus on clear progress. The improvements will be noticed, and that will make a big difference.
2. Your overall Sunday experience is not consistent.
It's possible that beyond your worship service, the full experience from the parking lot to the nursery to ushers and so on, is hit or miss in overall quality. Some weekends are great, some not so good.
Some Sundays it seems like there is vision, drive and energy, and other Sundays it seems like business as usual. That kind of inconsistency will hurt your church, and that does not inspire people to invite.
We understand that the church is "open" virtually all the time, we serve people nearly 7/24, but worship services are (usually) only on one or two days a week. Imagine a business that is only open one day a week; they would have to be amazing on that day!
Identify the top needs for improvements and make a simple written plan. For example, let's say you identify three areas that need improvement. Give each area six weeks of strong and intentional development, and in 18 weeks, you and your congregation will notice a dramatic difference.
3. Your church has quietly drifted inward.
Inward drift is hidden in more ways than one. It's difficult to see because you, the staff, and the volunteers can be working really hard and still be focused inward. This is not intentional, it's not what you want, but it's often the reality.
This is most common in churches that are overly busy with too many ministries. It's also common in loving and friendly churches, but the hidden part is that you are friendly to the people who already attend. It's not that you don't want new people, but you don't make time for them.
This is tough to break out of, but it definitely can be done. It requires a renewed heart for the lost. It also requires new ideas to help you reach people who don't attend, and new systems to help you connect with guests when they come.
4. They are nervous about what might be said from the stage.
Current culture has everyone on edge. It's nearly impossible not to offend someone every Sunday.
The margin for error in this highly sensitive time is thin, and nearly guarantees that leaders will say something "wrong," or not say something that a particular group believes should have been said.
This makes many in the congregation nervous about what "might" be said and therefore they don't invite unchurched friends.
- First, you can't worry about the possibility of offending someone. Just don't be offensive because you were careless with your words.
- Second, focus on the gospel, not on popular issues. You will still offend some by what you don't say, but you will remain true to the purpose of the church.
- Last, speak with love and grace for all.
This three-point formula will help serve as salt and light to anyone who attends and encourage many to invite their friends.
5. They have not recently experienced life change.
When people in your congregation personally experience a spiritually transformed life and see it in others, they are encouraged and inspired.
Stories of life change represent the power of the gospel, and those stories need to be told.
Numbers matter (reach more people for Jesus), but stories of life change matter more. Design your ministry so that transformed lives is your big picture goal, and tell those stories!
Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY.
This article originally appeared at danreiland.com.
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