We all want our church family to participate in the important Kingdom work of inviting people to church and sharing the love of Jesus with them. But, during the Easter season it seems even more vital. But it takes intentional effort to create a culture of invitation and welcome at your church.
For most of us, it tends to be easier to welcome people to church once they arrive, rather than going out of our way to invite them ourselves. This is understandable — it can feel pretty intimidating to directly invite people to church. Even for big events like Easter, your congregation might need a little extra encouragement to take this bold step and extend a personal invitation to someone, so we have a few tips to help get them ready.
Tip 1: Ask Them
It may seem obvious, but the first step is asking your church to invite people! It’s easy to get caught up in the regular rhythm of Sunday services and forget to ask your church members what they’re doing to invite others in. But as you begin to prepare for Holy Week, take a moment to talk about the importance of inviting people to church. Remind them why inviting others is important and ask them to consider who they can seek out in their circles — friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.
A personal invitation is perhaps the best way to invite someone to church because there’s an existing connection for the invitee. People will typically feel much more comfortable attending a new church when they already know someone there. It can help take away the anxiety of having to navigate around on their own, or the fear of sitting by themselves. Plus, when they visit church because of a personal invitation from someone they know, they already have a point person to answer any questions they may have (and someone to soothe any worries or concerns).
If you need some help motivating them, why not add in a little humor? Josh and Steve know that working up the courage to extend a personal invitation is tough, but worth it in the end! Their series of video clips are great to use in the lead up to big Sundays when you’re really hoping to get lots of new visitors.
Tip 2: Equip Them
After you ask them, equip them. It’s important to offer regular verbal encouragement and support, but you also need to equip your congregation with tools that will help them bridge the discomfort they may feel about inviting people to church.
Invite cards are a great way to do this.
These handy little cards are designed to hold your church’s basic information, a welcoming message, and friendly graphics or imagery, all for the purpose of giving a potential visitor everything they need to know to find your church and visit. You can make them as small as a business card, or slightly larger if you want to include some extra information. Consider stocking a table in your church lobby with invite cards that people are free to pick up as needed. Let your congregation know the cards are available, and encourage them to think of who they could offer one to. If they need to work up to actually inviting someone in person, they could always leave a couple of cards at their place of work or a local business.
Insider tip: Get 500 custom Easter invitecards for only $39 – you save $20- Use coupon code S19Invite through April 5, 2019!
Another great FREE tool is the Engager Invitation – these modern-day tracts help start faith-based conversations. Each Easter-themed Engager design includes a compelling story and a Gospel presentation. And churches in the continental US can get 500 Free courtesy of Every Home for Christ and Outreach Inc.
Encourage them to use social media.
Social media can be another great way to bridge the gap for some of your church members who may not be comfortable enough to invite someone to church in person. Encourage them to share posts from your church – Easter-themed social media posts are available as part of the This is Love church kit. In addition, your church can subscribe to a daily service that automatically posts inspirational ministry-minded graphics to your church’s Facebook page daily. By sharing, or tagging your church in their own posts, your members can help spread the word and increase your church’s social media presence. Plus you never know what kind of simple digital connection will help give someone the courage to seek out a community of believers. Your church members can even make generalized invites in their own posts. This is a way to extend an offer to everyone without the pressure of choosing one person directly.
Invite cards and social media are helpful to warm people up to the idea of directly inviting someone to church. If you have the time and resources, you could always do a sermon or short series about why inviting people to church is important. You could also have a class available for people to take if they really want to learn how to be effective inviters.
Tip 3: Get Ready
Now that you’ve explained to your church why inviting is important and you’ve helped equip them to do it, make sure you’re ready for new visitors! Your church members will feel a lot more comfortable inviting people to church if they know their guests will find a warm, welcoming environment. If you haven’t reviewed your guest services policies lately, now’s a great time to do this. Here are a few key things to focus on to give guests a great experience:
A fantastic welcome desk
You welcome desk should be a well-marked, easily accessible place visitors can go to get any and all questions answered. Your welcome desk volunteers should be great people-readers and well versed in virtually everything about your church. Can they answer questions about how to get more connected at your church? Can they show or direct guests to any part of the building? It helps to have occasional training for your welcome team to keep everyone on the same page, especially if you’re periodically adding in new volunteers.
It’s also a great idea to stock your welcome desk with anything someone might need during your service — think bottled water, tissues, mints, earplugs, pens, notepads, etc.
A special gift
And of course, have a welcome gift available for people! In fact, when it comes to welcome gifts, consider offering one to both the visitor and the person who invited them as a fun incentive. Here are a few fun options both newcomers and current attendees will enjoy:
Tip 4: Connect With Them
Now that you’re prepared for new visitors, how will you welcome them and show them their presence is valued?
Acknowledge visitors during your service
Welcome guests at the beginning of the service, and take moments to acknowledge them throughout. This shows guests that you’ve thought of them in advance and are happy they’ve visited. BUT avoid causing undo embarrassment – not everyone wants attention drawn to them so avoid asking them to stand or raise their hands. Instead, you could say something like “If you’re visiting today, welcome! We’re so glad you’re here.” This is enough to make them feel welcomed and valued.
You can also invite them to fill out a connection card and drop it off at the welcome desk. Explain that the desk is where they can have any questions answered, find out how to connect further, and receive their free gift. It’s also nice to address guests at other moments in your service that may require participation they’re potentially unsure of or uncomfortable with. For example, during the offering, let them know they’re welcome to give if they’d like but that it’s not required or expected of them. Or if you’re practicing communion, let them know they’re welcome to participate if they are comfortable, but it’s not expected. Simple moments like this will help put guests at ease, especially if they aren’t familiar with church.
Have ways to follow up
Do you have a good follow up plan for contacting new visitors? Once they visit, don’t just leave it up to the person who invited them to follow up. If you make a point to reach out to them, they’ll know they’re valued by your church as a whole. Texts or emails are great options that are easy and quick, but a handwritten note from your pastor or another staff member at church is an especially nice touch.
Do you have a regular welcome lunch for new visitors? Once a month is a great rhythm for this. You can announce it during service and encourage people to come share a meal while learning more about your church. Have your pastor and other staff members available to chat with people and answer any questions.
So, how is your church doing when it comes to encouraging members to invite others to church? It’s okay if you have some room to improve — it’s an ongoing process! Try out some of these tips this Easter and then continue into the fall ministry season to cultivate an inviting culture at your church that gets your congregation excited to share your church with others.
Try the Power of a Personal Invitation
Easy and friendly to use invite cards