Teaching your church to invite is one of the most important things you can do as a pastor. It's one of those keystone habits, and it affects nearly everything else in the church.
A church that has a culture of inviting is likely going to be a growing church. And now is the perfect time to start working on that culture.
Here are 19 ways you can encourage your people to invite.
#1 – Stop asking for a few weeks. If you constantly say something like “don't forget to invite your friends next week” people might tune you out. Leave it alone for a while, so you can…
#2 – Then ask big. Instead of a small mention each week, devote a considerable amount of time to talking about inviting. Let the congregation know next week's service is designed for new people, share stories, and ask big.
#3 – Provide invite cards. You can make it easier for people to invite by giving them simple tools like printed cards. Here are some from LifeChurch in Oklahoma City.
#4 – Encourage Social Media Use During the Service. During a welcome, encourage everyone to take out their phones and share a status update or Tweet. People don't have to wait until later in the week to invite someone, they can do it from their iPhones at church. Besides, it's time churches stop greeting people like it's 1999.
#5 – Provide lawn signs. Print up a few lawn signs and make them available for people to put in their front lawns. If people will do it for politicians, some will do it for their church.
#6 – Make an invite page on your website. Create a page on your website with graphics, sample Facebook posts, and ideas for people to invite their friends. Direct your members and donors there.
#7 – Create shareable content. It's not tough for you because you're a professional Christian, but sometimes, it's scary for people to invite their friends to church. So create helpful content that is easier for people to share. It might be an inspirational quote or a helpful article. It could be a list of local restaurants that let kids eat free. This free eBook will give you more ideas.
#8 – Write Facebook Posts for People. Instead of just telling people to invite their friends on Facebook, create a post they can cut and paste. Remember, the easier you make something, the more people will do it. Make the images and write the posts.
#9 – Send a text reminder on Saturday. Use this sparingly, but text your members, volunteers or regular attenders on Saturday night and ask them to invite a friend to church tomorrow. A tool like Text in Church will get the job done.
#10 – Give away t-shirts for guests and those who bring them. Our friends at Venue Church in Chattanooga have been doing this for years. Every guest gets a t-shirt when they visit, but those who bring guests get one too. Plus, when people wear good looking t-shirts, it's free advertising.
#11 – Thank people personally. When someone brings a friend, thank them personally. Send a thank you note that says, “Jimmy came to church Sunday and he said you were the one that invited him. Thank you so much for extending that invite.” Members will find ready-to-print templates for these cards in the Church Fuel resource library.
#12 – Tell stories of inviting. There is no better form of communication than stories – it's how we learn best. So make sure you're telling stories about inviting in your sermon and throughout your service.
#13 – Always welcome guests. Even if there are 15 people in the church service and they are all related to you, intentionally welcome guests and let them know what to expect. It's a powerful way to reinforce to your regulars that new people are supposed to be here. It's a culture thing.
#14 – Talk to guests in your sermon. Make sure every message has a moment where you're addressing new people. If you reference a series, make sure you provide context for guests. If you say the name of a ministry, make sure you explain what that means to guests. Without that simple explanation, nobody knows what Xtreme or Waumna Land is.
#15 – Create a custom audience on Facebook. This is slightly technical, but you create a group of church members on Facebook (it's called a Custom Audience) and then only display posts to that segment of people. It's perfect for reminding people to invite, and driving them to the inviting resources you created for them. You can even promote online giving to your church (while they are online and able to take action). There's probably a volunteer in your church who would love to help with this.
#16 – Shoe Polish Sunday. The Sunday before a really big day, have some people and shoe polish ready to write on people's rear windows. Make sure they give permission, of course.
#17 – Display names. Ask your church to write down the first names of people they would like to see come to church and find a creative way to display these. Here are people praying over names written directly on the wall at Freedom Church.
#18 – Prayer Time. Organize a time of prayer, either in person or online, to pray for those who need to be invited.
#19 – Tear Off Postcards. Send a perforated postcard to the homes of your members or regular attenders. One half talks about inviting and the other half is designed to give to a friend or neighbor.
So What's Next?
Feel like your church should be growing, but it's not? From someone who used to be a pastor and church planter, I know it can be frustrating.
Ultimately, church growth is up to God. But what else can you do as a steward to reach more people?
We know you care deeply about leading a healthy growing church because it means leading more people to Jesus. As a result we created a free guide to reaching more people that will bring clarity and inspiration.
Get your FREE copy of the Senior Pastor's Guide to Reaching More People today by entering your name and email below.