In a prior church I served, one Valentine’s Day we had 27 children attend a parent’s night out program at our church. That figure is remarkable when you consider a couple of facts. We were a modest sized church with four or five children present on Sunday mornings and maybe eighty to ninety people in attendance on an average Sunday. The vast majority of the children who attended the Valentine event weren’t from our church. So twenty-seven is a rather huge number.
Why so many kids?
Did we pay for a bunch of ads? No.
Did we put out banners and flyers? No.
The answer — Ever child who came except for one was personally invited to attend. One child came because her mom saw it announced on Facebook. Everyone else said ‘yes’ in response to a personal invitation.
So many churches are looking for a magic bullet for evangelism. They are looking for that elusive perfect pastor, program, or youth director who is going to attract people in. Yet, time and time again studies have shown that most people (85% typically), visit a church for the first time because of a personal invitation. Inviting people is the undisputed best method of increasing church attendance, the first step toward building disciples.
If you would like an outline of what I did to invite children to that event click the button below. I used this process repeatedly and every time with great results. We repeatedly had at least fifteen to twenty children and some times close to thirty. The process in the outline can be used for any activity and for adults or children alike.
I am confident that the process was what produced the result. The high attendance was not due to the event because each time we offered a parent night out program what we did changed. Also, after I left, the church tried to hold a similar event and despite having trained people, those in charge ignored the process of invitation with disastrous results. Two children attended and a hand full of youth. Why? Because, they chose not to invite.
Why we don’t want to hear that inviting is the best method.
So, why do most people focus on the the other 15%. I would propose the we focus there because that lets us of off of the hook of personally having to do evangelism. To be blunt, it’s easier on us. But failing to invite is a failure. Jesus told the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. Grammatically speaking the word “go” was an imperative. “Going” wasn’t up for debate or optional. Jesus was emphatic about our active efforts to spread the good news.
The Power of Inviting
A personal invitation isn’t just powerful because it can get someone through the doors. A personal invitation actually has the power to transform a life. Every invite has the potential for bringing someone into a new beginning. Never have I heard this more powerfully reflected than in a story a friend shared with me recently.
A Life Changed by an Invitation
I have a friend who is a pastor. His brother called him one day and said, “I watched my daughter’s first breath and I watched her last breath.” He was calling to let my friend know this because his thirty something year old daughter had just died after lengthy battling with cancer. His brother wanted my friend to speak at her funeral.
Now you need to understand something. My friend’s brother hadn’t darkened the doorstep of a church except for two times in his life. His wife who was a Christian raised their two daughters as Christians and the only time he had ever attended church was upon their baptisms. The man wasn’t just an unbeliever he actually was verbally belligerent toward and mocking of God.
My friend accepted the invitation to speak at his niece’s funeral. He came and met the pastor of the church where the service would be held. The pastor was extremely gracious and kind. He welcomed the participation of my pastor friend. My friend spoke of his niece’s life and he spoke the Gospel.
His brother afterwards told him, “During the service my heart was growing cold and hard, but then something happened and my heart thawed and opened.” After the service, the pastor of the host church approached my friend’s brother. Unaware of my friend’s brother’s experience the pastor extended his hand and said, “I would be honored if you would come visit my church some time.” The brother decided he would. He has been to worship now several times. He is now calling my friend regularly eager to learn about the faith he mocked. He will be getting baptized soon. Why? Because the Holy Spirit moved in his life and someone extended to him a personal invitation.
A God Who Loves to Invite
Our God is a God who loves to invite. The bible is full of invitation stories. One of my favorite is the parable of the great banquet in Luke 14. In that parable, a master sends his servant to invite people. Those invited offered many excuses. “I cannot come. I’ve bought a field.” “I cannot come. I’ve just gotten married.”
The master didn’t give up. He sent the servants out again and spread the invitation even wider. Once those R.S.V.P.’s came in he said, “There is still more room. Go get more.” There are also all of the stories where Jesus invited disciples to follow him.
Notice in the parable of the banquet that the master didn’t go and invite people. He sent servants to extend the invitation. That’s you and me. It’s our responsibility to invite people. Why?…Because an invitation can change someone’s life. When have you last invited someone to church or to a bible study or even to a fellowship event with your church family? Whom should you invite?
Here’s that download link one more time of the invitation process I used repeatedly with astounding results:
Why Inviting is so Powerful
Invites are powerful. We love to be invited. Being invited feels good. We know then that someone cares about us. We feel wanted and loved when we are invited. Not only that, but often times people want to come to something but feel awkward about coming unless they have been invited. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say, “I was just waiting for someone to ask.”
You could be that person. In doing so, you might also be the vehicle by which God begins to work a miracle in someone’s life. Inviting someone won’t cost you anything and it takes only a moment. Isn’t that worth the risk of may be having your invitation rejected?
Do you have a story about someone inviting you and the difference it made in your life? If so, I would love to hear it. Please comment below. In the meantime, prayerfully consider the person that God may be wanting you to invite into his great family. Download the outline I have provided. I would encourage you to listen to the podcast as well. In today’s episode I share a few additional details about how I invited the kids.
The Practical Disciple
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(This post was expanded and adapted from a post written February 24, 2014)