Growing a church isn't easy. It takes dedication, hard work and good planning. Even though there are tons of books and blogs out there about it, many churches still struggle in attracting new people. Despite the latest greatest growth strategies, friends inviting friends is still the most effective way to bring new people to church. When people become intentional about bringing their unchurched friends to church, they get to witness life change up close and personal...and when that happens, the church moves into a culture of invite.
Here’s three things to help build an invite culture in your church:
- Design a gospel-centered invite culture
- Determine your invite platforms
- Develop people to be path leaders
Creating the Design
A healthy invite culture must be designed around the why more than the what. When we focus on the why, it removes us from the what and automatically answers the who, because the why is always about people who aren't following Jesus. It's about the gospel, which means unchurched people become the "who" by default. When a church begins to value inviting unchurched people, their culture begins to shift; because whatever a church values eventually shapes their culture. Suddenly preaching styles, worship styles, internal language and yes, invite strategies are designed and evaluated while looking through the lens of the person who needs Jesus.
Determining the Platforms
In addition to a gospel-centered design, you will need to determine and leverage invite platforms. There are natural platforms that happen every year like Easter, Christmas, the new year and mom’s day. In addition to natural platforms, it’s important to create other platforms, such as hot topic series, family series or create a community-based event. Invite platforms provide opportunities for congregants to invite their friends to something besides church; and they still hear the gospel. Congregants are more comfortable inviting their unchurched friends to an Easter drama, a Christmas play or a themed weekend. Pastors and leaders often make the mistake of treating sheep like shepherds. It’s usually easy for pastors and leaders to invite people to church; however, the average lay person can find it uncomfortable. When you give them the right motive (life change) and something to invite their friends to (the right platform); you'll soon see new faces and new opportunities to reach people for Jesus.
Developing Path Leaders
Eventually, the goal of an invite culture is to move congregants from inviters to path leaders. New people showing up isn't the endgame. The real win is when church members walk alongside their friends on a journey to help them follow Jesus more deeply. Another word for this is discipleship. When people invite their friends to join them on a discipleship pathway, lives drastically change. Imagine people saying to their friends, "Follow me to small groups, connect class or our partnership class. I'll go with you!"
In order for this to happen well, a clear pathway is critical. New people showing up is always awesome, but profits little if there aren't clear next steps to help people follow Jesus and become a disciple.