Now I know that is a broad generalization to some degree because many people are out there bringing their friends and families to Church. But I know that it is a thing, because in every church that I have visited in recent years, the pastors lament that their people don’t bring new guests to visit. So, why are preachers pleading with their congregations every weekend to invite someone to church next week? I think there are a couple of key reasons that impede folks from being relationally evangelistic and the good news is we can help them overcome these obstacles.
Another broad generalization that we make as an excuse is fear. Some people are truly introverts and struggle in public or group settings. But, even the most extreme introverts that I know have close friends and family with which they are comfortable. I think fear is real, but there are things we can do as leaders to mitigate congregational fears about inviting their friends and family to church.
What are our people afraid of? I think we are afraid of a couple, tangible realities. First, some people are uncomfortable sharing their personal experiences with Jesus or they don’t want to be labeled as radical. Let’s face it, it is very scary to be transparent about our shortcomings and beliefs with other people. Another issue is people are afraid they will say the wrong thing or be unable to answer questions. These and many other fears or excuses can be addressed by the following tips to encourage our people to be more evangelical.
1) Stop begging and start compelling! The #1 reason we need to invite folks to church is because Jesus tells us to (Mark 16:15). Instead of the weekly plea to “bring someone with you next week,” let’s remind our people of our Biblical responsibility as followers of Jesus. He wants us to bring people to church because God loves us all and wants everyone to experience the fullness of life that can only be experienced in that relationship. Let’s make it clear that this is not a church growth strategy the preacher wants, but rather a Kingdom building initiative that Jesus commands! Share tangible and real examples of how Jesus has impacted people in your congregation and community because they engaged with your church.
2) Let’s help our people get their stories straight! The most compelling reason other people will follow us to church is because they want to experience the positive changes in their lives they have seen in ours. The challenge is that most people aren’t prepared to tell their own story, much less Jesus’ or the church’s stories. Let’s help our people learn how to tell their stories by sharing stories in worship and online. Use your sermons to give people information and anecdotes they can share in their circles of influence. I am convinced that you should include sharing your story as a critical next step in your discipleship path. PRO TIP: If you want to be more effective sharing the Gospel in your community, then make storytelling a priority for you and your people.
3) Send them to work with a full toolbox! Our job as church leaders is to make it easy for people to share Jesus. You do that by making steps #1 & 2 a part of the rhythm or culture of your church. We also need to make sure we have resources that our people can use to alleviate their fears and discomfort in being transparent with people about their faith. Our toolboxes need a website that gives guests a chance to test drive church, a social media presence where we can have conversations with people about the important issues of life (and I am not talking about college football), and a welcoming church environment where a post-Christian public can engage with Jesus.