Several years ago, one study showed large percentages of unchurched would consider attending a church if someone simply invited them. On the other hand, church members are often reticent to invite others—especially in these days of COVID. In some cases today, we have to invite folks to a virtual service, or we invite them to come to church as long as they bring their masks with them. It seems more difficult to do outreach, but we still need to work at inviting others to hear the gospel.
Based on my consulting research and interviews, here are 10 reasons church members struggle to invite others:
- “I just don’t think about it.” – Many church members have contact with the unchurched every week, if not every day. What church folks don’t do, though, is see the unchurched as “sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36), as spiritual beings in need of redemption and a church family.
- “I’m afraid I’ll be rejected.” – Nobody likes to be turned down, especially after taking the risk to invite somebody to church. It’s just easier to avoid that possibility by not inviting anyone at all.
- “The music isn’t that good.” – Some may argue the worship wars are over, but the battles seem to be ongoing in some cases. Church members who themselves don’t enjoy the music don’t readily invite others to join them.
- “The preaching isn’t strong.” – Church members who love their pastors do not want to hurt them, but they spoke honestly to our consulting teams. When the preaching is poor, invitations to the unchurched decrease.
- “We’ve got too many church problems right now.” – Church members frequently recognize when something “just isn’t right.” Simply stated, they do not invite their friends onto a battleground.
- “Our church is already too crowded.” – This issue is particularly an American one, as Americans protect our personal space. Now, we have COVID restrictions in some cases as well, and we must figure out how to provide more space in a safe way. One way to avoid more crowding is to stop inviting anyone.
- “Nobody ever challenged me to invite anyone.” – Some church members never think about inviting others because no one has challenged them to do so. This response is especially tragic if many unchurched would respond affirmatively to an invitation.
- “I don’t know how to start the conversation.” – In a culture where discussing religion or politics is almost forbidden, even long-term Christians struggle with initiating an invitation to church.
- “It’s the Spirit’s job—not mine—to bring people to church.” – In their zeal to keep their focus on God, some members walk cautiously when considering their role in evangelism – including simply inviting others to church.
- “It’s too far for people to come.” – We live in a mobile culture that promotes church attendance sometimes quite far from where we live. Our teams have learned, however, that church members who drive a long distance are less willing to invite others to drive that same distance.
What reasons would you add to this list? What steps have you taken to address these responses?