10 Reasons Church Members Don’t Invite Others to Church

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:

  1. “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.
  2. “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.
  3. “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.
  4. “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.
  5. “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.
  6. “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.
  7. “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.
  8. “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.
  9. “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.
  10. “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?

4 Comments

  • Jerry Watts says:

    Good thoughts Chuck. I probably could add a couple more, but why? Thanks for your ongoing help. Grace

  • Deep down they really don’t believe people are lost and in need of a Savior. They are functioning as Universalists.

  • Robin G Jordan says:

    Another way one can put numbers 3, 4, and 5 is that church members are embarrassed by their church. This embarrassment can extend to the style of worship, the church building, the personality of the pastor, the unfriendliness of the congregation, and other areas of the life and ministry of the church. My experience has been that people invite friends, neighbors, relatives, and others to their church when they are excited about the church–the music, the preaching, the children’s ministry, and so on. They want others to share in their excitement. But when their enthusiasm fades, they are less likely to invite people to church. .Church conflict can significantly dampen people’s enthusiasm. They may recognize that their church is not healthy and would not be a good environment for an inquirer or a new believer. Those who attend the church have not been well discipled and exhibit what can be described as un-Christian attitudes and behaviors toward others.
    In churches that have a large number of older people, a shrinking network of relationships may be a factor. Often their remaining friends are already churched.
    People also do not invite friends, neighbors, relatives, and others to the church because the church leaders do not put sufficient emphasis upon inviting them. One of the notable differences between the growing new church and the declining older churches that I have observed is the extent to which attendees are encouraged to invite people to church. Growing new churches will strongly emphasize the importance of inviting people to church. It will be mentioned at the services and other gatherings and in the church news letter. Church leaders will conduct reoccurring campaigns encouraging attendees to invite someone next Sunday and will provide suggestions as to how to go about it such as “Don’t just invite them to church but offer to bring them to church and take them to a restaurant or have them over to dinner afterwards.” People are more likely to accept an invitation to church if they are accompanied by the individual who invited them.
    An invitation to church does not have to be an invitation to a service of public worship. It can be an invitation to some other gathering, for example, a women’s sewing circle. A member of the sewing circle can invite a friend to one of its meetings, bring the friend with her, introduce her to the other members, and do whatever she can to help her form friendships in the circle. Individuals who enter into the life and minstry of a local church this way will often eventually begin attending the church’s services of public worship.

  • charles kile says:

    This one is so simple. I have 300 single Christians without a church home looking for connection on https://www.meetup.com/RTP-Christian-Singles/ . 1st ask your leadership if a you could invite total strangers based on ages. Some congregational churches are more like clubs for members only. Create directions from a major intersection to the church. Create direction in the church on how to find a particular door where an age group is involved. Contact and create a profile on meetup and look for a Christian meetup group that is activity base, they are always looking for events that has a host. Pick a day of the month and put the event on automatic to be announced monthly. Then simply wait for someone to walk through the door.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.