You will have to cross a ton of hurdles to encourage people to join a small group.
The people in your church are probably thinking:
Will I get along with anyone?
Why should I join a small group?
Is this the right thing to do?
In all of the challenges you’ll face in your small group ministry, one of the most significant is figuring out what you’ll do for childcare. Not having childcare figured out ahead of time can cause your ministry to falter or fail.
When parents or guardians join a small group, the first thing they need to figure out is childcare. If you can take care of this concern for them, then you’re well on your way to creating a solid foundation.
3 small group childcare guiding principles
Before sharing different childcare options, I’d like to talk about a few principles.
1 – Childcare doesn’t mean any children
Providing childcare for your small group doesn’t mean you can’t welcome children.
It’s a good idea to invite children to participate at different times.
In general, it’s beneficial for children to see their parents or guardians in community—to experience a taste of life in Christ. From having children join your group for opening prayers to leading an integrated family meeting a few times a year, find ways to include children in your group.
2 – Childcare should be in a different room
It’s ideal to have children in a different room during the small group meeting.
I’m not talking about infants or breastfeeding babies—but more of a general rule of thumb.
If children are visible, it's difficult for group members to focus on what’s being discussed and the nature of your conversations will be limited. By having children in a different room or part of the house, you’ll be able to create an environment for your members to relax and talk.
3 – Be safe
As a small group leader, you’ll need to follow your church’s policies for children safety.
Have at least two people with kids—preferably not a married couple
Make sure the area is safe
Randomly check on the kids every 15–30 minutes
Provide childcare training
Provide background checks—if possible
Be aware of allergies among the children
Share contact information
With these three guiding principles in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more popular childcare options for small groups.
#1 – Get a babysitter
Providing a babysitter for your small group is one of the easiest ways to handle childcare.
A reputable and reliable babysitter will help the members of your group feel comfortable, be present, and to focus on what’s going on.
When finding a babysitter, start with your church first. There’s a chance your church has a list of preferred babysitters.
Does your church not have a list or referrals?
Connect with the members of your small group to pool together a list of potential babysitters. Whoever you choose, just make sure they’re able to handle a crowd of kids and that they are reliable.
Speaking of reliability, be sure to check if your babysitters have transportation or if a member of your small group needs to give them a ride.
To ensure your babysitter is attentive, it’s best to pay him or her for their services. As a group, you can share the cost or ask a few members to pitch in more to help out other members who may be in financial need (again, you don’t want childcare to be a burden).
If the small group is a church ministry, see if your church is open to reimbursing childcare expenses. For your church to do this, it’s best if they set a weekly limit and make it easy.
Here are three examples of this practice from different churches:
Give the members of your group the flexibility to find their own babysitters. Many parents and guardians are comfortable with their own babysitters for different reasons. Make sure they have this option.
#2 – Rotate group members
Your small group can take turns providing childcare.
There are a few pros to this option:
It gives members an opportunity to serve
It provides an opportunity for adults to build relationships with children
To do this, all you need to do is create a schedule, let people pick dates, and be flexible. As you know, with children, plans can easily change when someone is sick or a school or athletic event comes up. So, you’ll need to be flexible.
If you can, have at least two men or two women help out in the same evening. As I shared above, this is not only safe—it also helps members share the load and build relationships with each other.
#3 – Alternate weeks
Another unique idea to consider is to schedule alternate weeks your group meets.
Let me explain.
During the course of the month, you can schedule a time for everyone to be together and another time for the men and women of the group to meet separately. So your schedule would look something like this:
Week 1: Everyone
Week 2: Men
Week 3: Women
Week 4: Break
During the evening when only the men or women meet, the idea is that their spouses will watch their children when the other is attending.
This model provides an opportunity for the men and women to explore topics in-depth, and it can lead to forming deeper relationships.
But, if you noticed, this still creates a need for childcare when everyone is in attendance. So you're back to the drawing board with finding a babysitter or rotating childcare.
How do you provide childcare?
There you have it.
Three popular ways you can provide childcare for your small group:
Get a babysitter
Rotate group members
Has your small group used one of these options? Is there a different option you’ve found to be successful? Share your experience in the comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Knowing what to share on social media can feel overwhelming.
Every time you open your social media accounts, you’re encouraged to share something:
Facebook asks: What’s on your mind?
Twitter’s wondering: What’s happening?
LinkedIn’s requesting: Share an article, photo, video or idea
It doesn’t matter what social media platform your church uses.
All of them are on 24–7–365, and they are always asking for you to share something.
(This makes me feel a bit anxious just thinking about it.)
Before moving on, take a deep breath.
Even though social media platforms are vying for your attention, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed by their constant demands. There’s a way your church—even if it's “small”—can effectively engage your congregation and reach new people without breaking down in the process.
Below I’m going to share with you three social media principles your church should live by. Before we dive in, let’s take a moment for a public service announcement.
Social media platforms and principles
Here’s what you need to know about social media:
The platforms are different, but the principles remain the same.
Every social media platform differs in some way.
From Facebook to Twitter to Snapchat, the social media platforms influence what you share and how you interact with other people.
For example, on Twitter, your tweets are limited to 280 characters—news breaks faster, and engagement is near instantaneous. Whereas Facebook’s user base makes it ideal to engage with your church and connect with people in your community. When it comes to posting on Facebook, unlike Twitter and Instagram, it’s best not to use a ton of hashtags.
Here’s the deal:
The social media platform you use will determine how your church should use it.
In other words, what posts work well on Twitter or Instagram may not work as well on Facebook or Snapchat.
So you’re probably wondering:
What works well on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, etc.?
Technically, there are ways you can optimize what you share on every social media platform. But I’m not going to walk you through the weeds of details today.
Instead, I want to share three social media principles that will influence how your church engages in social media. By building your social media strategy on these principles, in time, you’ll increase your engagement and reach more people in your community.
#1 – Share life in your church
Life in your church doesn’t start on Sunday, and it doesn’t end by lunch.
Assuming your worship service lasts for 1 hour, every member of your church still has another 167 hours of life to live throughout the week.
Know where they're spending their time?
If you guessed social media, you’re right.
According toSocial Media Today, the average person in the United States spends 2 hours per day on social media. Here’s a breakdown of these eye-opening statistics:
Facebook: 35 minutes
YouTube: 40 minutes
Snapchat: 25 minutes
Instagram: 15 minutes
Twitter: 1 minute
Don’t lose sight of the importance of leading people to have face-to-face conversations. As a church leader, you want to ensure that people in your church are building relationships with other people in your church. This is what being the church is all about.
Here’s one thing you also don’t want to overlook:
People spend a lot of time on social media.
This isn’t a judgment, just an observation.
So, if you want to engage with your church and reach people in your community, you need to go where they’re spending time—and that’s on social media.
One of the best ways to do this is to share what life in your church looks like. From church activities to the everyday life of your pastor, staff, and volunteers, be purposeful to share what’s going on.
Remember, social media is about being social. Sharing the life of your church isn’t about promoting your church per se. It’s more about sharing material that will engage your church and be seen by people in your community, which will lead them to check out who you are and see what you’re all about.
#2 – Celebrate life in your church
Jesus is alive!
He is building his Church (Matt. 16:18), and he is at work in your church and community.
Think practically about this for a moment.
In your church, God is doing a lot of work:
He is giving people new life in Christ
He is restoring broken marriages
He is delivering people from crippling anxiety and depression
He is building a loving Christian community
He is giving people purpose
He is growing people in their faith
He is leading people to be generous with their time and money
What’s the bottom line?
There’s a lot for your church to celebrate.
Be prepared to capture these celebratory moments. Make a plan to share what’s going on.
Sidenote: If the nature of the story is personal, make sure you also obtain permission to share.
Here are celebratory examples for many churches:
Commitments to Jesus
Service in your community
To share the everyday life of your church, be prepared ahead of time by having a staff member or volunteer take pictures or shoot videos of an upcoming event.
During the event itself, get someone else (staff or volunteer) ready to share photos and videos on social media. It's ideal to share on social media what’s going on as it’s going on—this is all about being social.
#3 – Share your church’s worship service
In your church, you have an endless amount of material you can share—especially content from your weekly worship service.
There are a variety of benefits to sharing your worship services on social media, such as:
Inviting people to participate
Giving people a taste of life in your church
Reaching new people
Connecting with absentees
Speaking of reaching new people, sharing your worship services on social media or online for others to see will helpfirst-time guests feel more comfortable.
Think about it.
It’s intimidating for first-time guests to visit your church’s worship service—even if a close friend personally invited them.
They’re entering foreign territory.
They don’t know what to expect.
They’re not sure how they’ll fit in.
The burden of “what if’s” can be crushing for potential visitors. But you can answer many objections, and help first-time guests feel more comfortable by sharing your weekend worship services on social media.
There are many ways you can share your worship service. Consider posting:
Service times and information
Sermon audio or videos
Behind the scenes
Church life updates or upcoming events
Again, it’s best to share life in your church as it’s taking place.
During your worship service, prepare your staff or volunteers to capture photos or videos of your worship service and have another person ready to share the goods on social media.
Over to you
If there’s one thing you take away from this post, let it be this:
Social media is all about social.
Everything you share doesn’t have to be professionally produced. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good idea to share high-quality material. But it’s essential to capture the daily moments of life in your church as they’re taking place.
Don’t overly stress about the quality of what you share. Instead, focus on being social and connecting your church—building relationships and reaching your community.
Pastoral transitions are frequent, and they can occur for good or bad reasons.
One key to pastoral transitions
Pastoral transitions can lead your church to lose one key thing: momentum.
I’m not talking about when a pastor is fired for a moral failure. I'm talking about normal pastoral transitions and the average amount of time it takes a church to call a new pastor, which can crush your church’s momentum.
Not only will a vacancy in leadership lead to these problems, so too will a mismanaged pastoral transition, which leads us to the next point.
6 ways to lead your church through a pastoral transition
Remember, pastoral transitions take on all sorts of shapes and sizes—both good and bad.
Here’s what you need to know:
If you don’t handle your pastoral transition well, you’ll create an entirely different set of problems.
To help lead your church well through this season, here are 6 steps you’ll need to take:
Continue your ministry
Make a plan
Follow Jesus’ lead
Let’s dig in!
#1 – Continue your ministry
There's one reality you must embrace during a pastoral transition:
The life of your church marches on.
For a variety of reasons, it’s difficult when a senior pastor transitions off staff. But the life of your church is not limited to this one man or woman. Your church is made up of every member who places their faith in Jesus Christ.
This is what the Apostle Paul emphasizes in his letter to the church in Corinth:
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ … For the body does not consist of one member but of many” (1 Cor. 12:12, 14).
As the body of Christ, your church—for better or worse—possesses achurch culture. In other words, your church has unique characteristics, behaviors, and ministries. So, when there’s a pastoral change, what makes up the culture of your church may change, which will cause anxiety among many of your members.
When there’s a pastoral transition, your church will be nervously questioning things like:
Will the style of worship change?
Will we continue this or that ministry?
Will other pastors, staff, or key volunteers leave?
What will become of my small group?
These thoughts and more will race through the minds of your church members.
If your church’s leadership does not address these anxieties, they will grow into more significant fears and may lead to gossip, slander, and division.
During a pastoral transition, it’s essential that the life of your church continues without interruption. There’s no need to make sweeping changes, and it’s best to let everyone know that life in your church will continue.
#2 – Make a plan
It’s easy to skip planning your church’s next steps during a pastoral transition.
Regardless of how well the transition takes place, this is still a difficult time for your church. You may be experiencing a sense of loss or feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done. Taking the time to plan for your future can feel daunting.
Hear me loud and clear:
Make a pastoral transition plan and work your plan.
Writing for theVanderbloemen Search Group, Tracey Smith said, “Many transitions go strangely wrong because the leader(s) does not have a plan.” As I pointed out above, this is something you don’t want to go strangely wrong.
In your plan, there are several short- and long-term tasks you’ll need to think through and outline, such as:
Creating a job description
Planning for pastoral care
Providing pulpit replacement
Forming a search committee
Promoting the open position
In your plan, there’s one additional item you’ll need to include: clarify roles.
Since this last step is nuanced, let’s tackle it individually next.
#3 – Clarify roles
In team sports, when a player is unable to play in a game, his or her position is filled by someone who can assume the responsibilities.
For example, in football, if your quarterback is injured, you need a replacement who can play quarterback—not a different position.
What do team sports have to do with pastoral transitions?
A senior pastor serves as the leader of the church. From providing spiritual leadership to strategic guidance, a senior pastor provides oversight for your church.
During a pastoral transition, your church will experience a gap in leadership. When this happens, your church will be concerned about how these responsibilities will be fulfilled moving forward. Also, your staff and volunteers will be curious to know how their responsibilities may change.
To help create a healthy pastoral transition, you’ll need to do the following:
Identify interim leaders
Empower your staff and volunteers
Interim leaders for your church can be an interim pastor, assistant pastor or staff member, or even shared responsibility among your board, session, or staff. Whether it’s an individual or group who’s assuming leadership responsibilities, make sure all roles are clearly communicated to your church and staff.
When there’s a pastoral transition, there’s also a need for someone else to pick up the work left behind. The size of your church will determine how much work you’ll need to delegate to your staff and volunteers.
To clarify roles, you must first identify what work will need to be accomplished in the absence of your pastor. Take the time to jot down everything your pastor did—from preaching, to pastoral care, to administrative work.
Now, with your list of tasks in hand, it’s time to delegate among your staff or volunteers. Don’t feel obligated to make sure everything is passed along. If your team doesn’t have the additional bandwidth, there’s a good chance you can postpone non-essential work.
Finally, empower your staff and volunteers in their roles and responsibilities. Encourage them to continue doing what they’re doing.
If you need to make any adjustments to someone’s responsibilities, meet with them individually to work this out. Laying this out up front will minimize stress with your team and reduce the risk of team members vying for a different position or higher authority.
#4 – Overcommunicate
There’s one thing you cannot do enough during a pastoral transition: communicate.
As I shared above, pastoral transitions will naturally lead your church to experience anxiety and stress. Often, these feelings are exasperated when there’s a lack of communication. It’s human nature to fill in the blanks when questions are left unanswered.
Communication with your church will need to be a two-way street.
On the one hand, you’ll need to continuously share with your church about what’s going on. On the other hand, you’ll need to be open to receiving feedback and listening to the concerns of your church.
Let’s explore both of these in detail.
Here’s the deal:
In pastoral transitions, your church members and staff will be anxious.
What you share with the members of your church and staff will differ.
For example, the members of your church will be curious about many things, and fearful about others.
What led to this transition?
How significantly will this affect my family and me?
Is there anything we need to be worried about?
As for your staff, they’ll likely have similar questions, but they’re also going to be concerned about their job security.
In the plan you were encouraged to make in step 2 above, think through the questions and concerns your members and staff will have. It’s also a good idea to develop a response to these questions to ensure consistent communication with everyone involved.
In a transitional period, your members and staff will experience a variety of feelings.
They’ll feel the loss of a pastor, friend, or boss.
They’ll feel stress at adjusting to the change.
They’ll be concerned about the future of the church and their job.
Whatever your church feels, it's okay. Transitions are hard for most people.
Give them room to breathe, and let them know who they can talk to if they have questions. Providing people with a clear line of communication will be a comfort for everyone—even if they don’t take advantage of the opportunity.
#5 – Be patient
Let’s face it: Transitions are messy.
In the midst of transitions, your entire church experiences change—and it’s hard.
How your church—both members and staff—navigates this change will be different.
Know ahead of time that you’ll run into a variety of opinions, and it’s essential to exercise patience. In other words, be ready to encounter different views—even from people who won’t accept the new reality.
To prepare yourself, know that your church will fall into one of three categories when it comes to working through the transition:
Knowing how your church will (or will not) accept change, will help you be better prepared to handle the different opinions. Let’s break this down a bit.
When it comes to change, early adopters are people in your church who are aware of the pastoral transition, and are comfortable with the changes taking place. This doesn’t mean this group of people has hard feelings toward the previous pastor or are not fighting loss. But it does mean they are the first group to embrace this transition.
In dealing with this group, you may not have to work hard to convince them to accept the transition. A strategy that works well with this group is sharing information and answering their questions.
What is more, consider leveraging the influence of early adopters by encouraging them to be champions of the church. It’s always helpful to have a group of non-staff people who act as a supportive voice.
As for the majority, this group represents the members of your church who are battling the loss of their pastor, but understand things change, and they will fight for the well-being of the entire church.
Expect this group to be slower in accepting the transition. In working with them, be informative and answer their questions. But be patient in forcing them to “fall into line.” Quick moves with this group can lead them to become combative, rather than supportive, which isn’t a good idea.
Finally, in any transition, you’ll have a group of laggards. This group of people is committed to the previous pastor, and they will fall into one of two categories.
First, there’s a portion of this group who will not accept the transition under any circumstances. Regardless of how you deal with this group of people, they will not be willing to stick around to see what happens, and that’s okay. Don’t force this group to be different than who they are. Be ready to part ways on good terms.
Second, there’s a portion of this group who will accept the transition and embrace a future pastor, but they’re skeptical and waiting to see how things work out. In working with this group, practice extreme patience. Don’t worry about when they choose to come on board.
Also, encourage early adopters to be aware of this group, build strong relationships, and be an encouragement for the church during this transition.
In leading your church through a pastoral transition, there’s one final point to make.
#6 – Follow Jesus’ lead
Jesus is the head of the Church, and he is the leader of your church (Col. 1:17–18; Eph. 5:22–25).
Over, and over again, remind your church of these truths:
Jesus is alive
Jesus is in control
Jesus loves your church
God is involved in your situation
God will work things out
God has good plans for you
By opening up the Bible and fearlessly sharing from its pages, God will change the hearts and minds of your church to see things from his point of view.
This is not only helpful during pastoral transitions, but there are many common themes—change, vision, faith—that will also help people grow in their faith in Christ.
Over to you
In the end, I want to leave you with this reminder:
You’re not alone.
What you're going through isn’t uncommon, and most importantly of all—God is involved in your situation.
If you still feel overwhelmed after reading through this process, consider reaching out to a third-party to help you work through the situation.
Every church faces two similar limitations: money and time.
It doesn’t matter if you think your church’s budget is “big” or “small.” You only have so much money to pay for:
When it comes to time, you run into the same challenge: You’re limited by what’s available. After you spend time counseling, preparing your sermon, or checking email, there’s likely little leftover if any.
To maximize money and redeem time, there’s a growing trend among churches in hiring virtual help. With advancements in technology and the growth of organizations devoted to providing virtual assistants or freelancers, it’s never been easier or more affordable to outsource a variety of tasks.
To help you get started, I’m going to share with you 4 common things many churches are outsourcing today.
#1 – Accounting
Keeping track of your church’s finances is no joke.
The time it takes to record donations and write down expenses is demanding. What’s more, bookkeeping is an exact science that requires professional training to do correctly.
So here’s the deal:
Bookkeeping isn’t an area of your ministry you can afford to overlook.
I know many of you reading this are not trained accountants, and you may not have the time to manage your church’s finances or have the budget to hire a full-time bookkeeper. But that’s okay.
Regardless of your church size, you can easily outsource your bookkeeping at a fraction of the cost of hiring another staff member.
By outsourcing your accounting needs, you will be able to free up a tremendous amount of time in your ministry and relieve yourself from a load of stress.
#2 – Administrative Support
As a pastor, God doesn’t call you to do everything.
It doesn’t matter how much coffee you drink or educational YouTube videos you watch, as a pastor (let alone a human being) you don’t have the time or skills to do everything.
From preparing your next sermon and counseling to managing an upcoming board meeting and spearheading a new outreach initiative, it’s a Herculean feat to stay on top of your schedule.
Thanks again to the advances in technology, you can outsource many tasks to a Virtual Assistant, including:
Responding to emails and messages
Conducting sermon research
Answering phone calls
Managing your calendar
Managing digital files
I understand a Virtual Assistant may not be able to greet someone in your church building. But let’s be honest: Do enough people visit your facilities to require hiring a full-time staff member?
That's not all.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant is especially helpful for newer or smaller churches who don’t have the budget to hire full-time assistance.
Think about it.
By outsourcing your administrative tasks, you can …
Reduce your stress
Better organize your ministry and life
Free up your time
Whenever you experience these three significant benefits, you’ll be more available for your church and able to serve from a healthier place since your plate won’t be as full.
#3 – Marketing
I know what you’re thinking:
We don’t have the money to spend on marketing.
If you’re thinking this, then you’re not alone. Many church leaders unknowingly believe the same myth. But let me shoot you straight:
You don’t have to have a massive budget to market your church.
In fact, you don’t need a budget, a dedicated staff member, or even a volunteer for many marketing strategies.
To connect with people in your community, word of mouth will always be one of the most effective (and free) marketing tactics at your disposal.
But here’s the kicker:
Most people in your community will visit your church online before they visit your church in-person.
Before you lose all hope, take a deep breath.
You don’t have to be a digital marketer, possess large sums of disposable income, or work with someone in your community to reach people online.
You can outsource all of your digital marketing efforts, such as:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Social Media Management
Social Media Engagement
Once you’ve outsourced your marketing needs or embarked on handling your digital presence yourself, you’re ready to move onto the next step.
A few members of the Church Fuel team attended the That Church Conference this week, which is a communications and marketing conference specifically for churches. It’s hosted in the Atlanta area and brings in speakers from all over the country (and attendees from all over the world—like Singapore and Poland this year) who are passionate about helping churches navigate the creatively challenging and ever-changing communication and digital media best practices.
Our Founder and CEO, Michael Lukaszewski, spoke at the conference this year and so did a number of other speakers with a ton of helpful advice for church communicators. Here are our top takeaways from this year’s That Church Conference.
1. Your culture and influence reaches beyond the walls of your church.
Creating a culture that people want to be a part of is one driving factor of church growth. As a leader, your influence helps create a culture in your church—good or bad—whether you realize it or not. As one speaker, Jenni Catron, put it: “Culture exists whether you’ve defined it or not.”
The environment you create either attracts or repels people. The influence that those in the church have on those in their circle of influence, with volunteers, and online has the power to affect people in profound ways.
Influence is the power to change or affect someone. It's sacred work. Lead with all of who you are for the glory of God and the good of others. @JenniCatron#ThatCC
Nona Jones, Faith-Based Partnerships Leader for Facebook, spoke about “social ministry” which gives a discipleship angle to everything your church does. “Move beyond sharing content about your ministry to making disciples through your ministry,” she said.
How can your church use communication strategy and online opportunities to change lives?
2. The path to becoming a first-time guest often begins online.
The digital presence of churches should give a glimpse of what it’s like to be a part of the church. Kenny Jahng called it “paparazzi previews.” He also shared a mind-blowing statistic: 17 million people who are not regular church-goers visit church websites every year. What an incredible opportunity to show how your church serves God and serves people, and illustrate why they should come be a part.
Katie Vogel, Social Media Director for Church of the Highlands, emphasized the digitization of word-of-mouth. People often visit a church because they heard about it from a friend or were invited by someone; social media is an opportunity to do this digitally and even continue conversations online. Phil Bowdle, Creative Arts Pastor at West Ridge Church, made the point that “the communications team gets to preach to more people than the pastor.”
Church communicators aren’t selling a product. We’re just trying to help people. Make that your strategy. @katieleevogel#thatcc
3. You have the resources you need to reach people.
If you’ve ever thought your production value, resources, or staff size weren’t enough to create great online content for your church, you’re not alone. It’s common to want to do “the next best thing” or “the big, creative thing” and we often put the time, effort, and resources into the wrong thing.
Michael Lukaszewski, founder and CEO of Church Fuel, said “boring is better.” Churches often underinvest in the ministries that are going well and driving growth and instead invest all resources and creativity into one-time events or ministries that aren’t thriving. Use the best resources, creativity, and brain power you have to improve the most overlooked, ordinary places in your church. “If you improve anything in your church by 5%, in 9 months it’ll be twice as good.”
Brady Shearer, CEO of Pro Church Tools and Storytape, encouraged conference attenders in saying, “Content value matters more than production value.” Catching people’s attention online matters more than having a beautiful logo, high-quality video, or a consistent visual brand. And social media content—in which only 1 in 5 posts should be promotional, he says—is an opportunity to “ditch the polish” and tear down the “pastor persona” to show that the pastor is just an ordinary person and the church is made up of ordinary people, just like those scrolling through online and thinking about visiting your church.
“Social should be a platform where our church mission statements are realized.” @BradyShearer#THATCC
Anything having to do with religion or the church can be really uncomfortable for most people to talk about. Maybe the only experiences people in your church have ever had with talking about church or inviting someone are downright painful.
So, rather than reliving an uncomfortable experience, they do nothing. They shy away. Not because they don’t want to invite people to your church, but because they don’t know how.
Instead of getting upset with your people, this is a great opportunity to teach them how to invite. This doesn’t have to be a weird thing. And you have the chance to show your people that. Inviting can become a normal part of your church’s life.
Here are five simple ways you can create a culture of invitation within your church.
1. Make Sunday service your priority.
Yes, we know that Jesus commissioned us to “go” and make disciples, but He also called us to gather together as a local church (Hebrews 10:25).
The reason this is so important is not to make your church look great, but to create an environment guests want to come back to. You don’t have to have fancy lights and a rockstar worship team to do this either.
You just need people who care about people.
If your pastor cares about people, he will preach gospel-centered sermons. If your staff cares about people, they’ll strive their best in their individual ministry areas. And when your church cares about people, they will want others to experience a Sunday at your church because it adds value to their life and personal faith.
But anyone can invite someone. How do you get someone to want to come back?
2. Practice Hospitality
It is easy to say your church is friendly. It is another to actually be warm and inviting to people who have never stepped foot in your building.
People want to feel seen, heard, and like they matter. And it is so easy to do this!
The best way to lead is by example.
Look around on a Sunday morning and ask: Who is standing around your lobby alone? Is anyone looking around or up at signs to try to figure out where to go? They’re likely new. And that’s a great opportunity for you to go up and greet them personally. You don’t have to ask for them to commit to membership on the spot—just welcome them and ask about them and what brought them to your church.
A great way to encourage others to have a warm and inviting mentality is to make personal asks. Something like…
“Hey Laura, I haven’t seen that woman in our cafe before. I think she’s a new guest. I think you are very approachable and would be a great person for her to connect with. Would you mind connecting with her?”
This is one of the most powerful strategies you can use to encourage and develop your existing members as leaders and to create that culture of inviting without adding shame or guilt to the mix.
3. Be completely present.
Recently, due to some serious health issues, I hadn’t made it to church in about a month or so. I was so excited to finally be feeling well again and to be back together with other believers, worshipping in song, and learning more of God’s Word from my pastor.
I came back to a few unsympathetic “it’s been a while” remarks and some people who greeted me, but looked like they were in a hurry and weren’t interested in talking to me. I felt unseen, unheard, and unimportant. And this was a place I was on staff at one point! I considered these people my family.
Imagine that being a guest at your church.
What reason would they have to come back?
People notice when you are glancing at your phone, your watch, someone else, or are hurriedly rushing through a conversation. You make time for the things that are important and people can sense when they are not important to you. That’s not to say there aren’t times where you have a lot going on and that happens—we’re human. But there are far more grown adults who still are on their phones in the middle of a meal with others than those who are not. This is not okay.
Let’s get practical. How do we avoid doing this when we have so much on our plate? Here are some tips:
Let someone completely finish what they are saying before adding in what you have to say.
Be aware of your body language. Are your feet pointed towards the door? Are you being attentive? Nodding while the person is talking? Does the other person notice you are listening to what they are saying or is it like they are talking to a wall?
Are you dialed in to what the other person is feeling? Are you empathetic to what the other person is experiencing, even if you can’t fully relate to what they are going through?
Are you giving the other person the gift of unhurried time?
You can always ask a trusted friend (or spouse) how they feel like you listen and then to evaluate you using some of these new techniques. Even the best listener can always work on becoming a better one.
4. Be involved
Here’s what I mean.
It’s easier than ever to not have to leave your house. You can get groceries to delivered to your house, have your close friends over to watch a college football game, and continue to get into the same routine with the same people. We’re not against this, but try broadening out.
Here are some ways you can try to broaden your horizons:
Instead of forming an IM soccer team with your church, grab one or two friends and join an existing team.
Take a group exercise class to meet new people.
Take your dog to the dog park or dog events to meet other pet owners.
Get to know the local businesses in your area. You can build great relationships with them and even partner with them to do an event.
Volunteer at high school events to give parents a break to be able to actually watch their kids at their sport or performing art.
Partner with an event your city does every year (this could be anything from an Easter Egg Hunt to a local concert).
Go to local bookstore readings to get to know the literary scene better.
The great part about this is you don’t have to go out of your way to “evangelize.” People can tell when they’re a project and that’s not how you want to come across.
If you get involved in your city in things you already have an interest in, it becomes very natural to build relationships with people. And once they can see that you are a normal person that likes the same things that they do, you may completely change their perception of the local church. A little intentionality goes a long way.
4. Teach your people how to invite.
Most pastors assume their people know how to invite, but this may be foreign to some people.
You can talk through some of the points we’ve mentioned in this article to your church. If you don’t want to do this during a sermon (which we think is perfectly normal), you can mention these during member meetings, volunteer trainings, and small groups.
Andy Stanley also mentions to North Point regulars that they should look for three cues. When they are talking to someone else and they hear one of these three sentences:
Things are NOT going well…
I was NOT prepared for…
I am NOT from here….
Then that clues them in that that is a great opportunity to invite. You can point these out to your church as well.