“Over the long-term in a church, you can accomplish more with 300 engaged Christians than with 3000 disengaged attendees. The disengaged group will dwindle. The 300 engaged Christians will advance the mission and never stay the same. Yes, only God can bring growth. But he uses people who are engaged to do it.”
- Carey Nieuwhof
People do not just walk into church. Did you know that?
Ten years ago, our denomination was part of a study of church attenders. They asked them two questions: “How did you first find out about this congregation prior to coming here for the first time?” and “Which of the following reasons were most important in your decision to come to this congregation for the first time?” In both instances, the top answer was the same. The top answer was “Someone I already know invited me,” with almost 40% of the vote going to this answer alone. When Barna surveyed unchurched people the following year, they found that 96% of unchurched people would agree to attend church with a friend if they invited them.
These studies are now a decade old, but things have not changed much. In fact, the importance of inviting people to church is even more true today. The church is learning a few things about the new world we live in post-COVID. One thing we are learning is that very few people will be wandering into our doors off the street without a contact here of some kind. They need to know someone that enjoys this church. In the younger groups, they make contact through our website, social media presence, and presence in the community. (I can hear the rebuttal here so let me throw this out there too: yes, even the older group is doing this. My Amish grandmother is on Facebook, friends.)
I share these thoughts for one simple reason: if you want to see the church succeed in making disciples, you must engage in that process. Very few people will be coming to church this year or in the future without an invitation from you. This is the same way Jesus got disciples. He invited them. Remember when the first group was out fishing? Jesus invited them. Remember Matthew, sitting at his table collecting taxes? Jesus invited him. They did not just show up one day, seeking to be his disciples. Others did it too: Philip invited Nathaniel, Peter invited the multitude in Acts 2, and Paul invited his captors in prison. Invitation is the number one way to ensure someone finds Jesus.
You may think to yourself, “You’ve already said this before, Pastor Chad.” You are right and I will say it over and over again because I believe it! This is one part of the church that I as a pastor cannot do as well as you can as a congregant. Only 5% of those study groups came to church because a pastor invited them. There is something special about a Christian inviting their friends when there is no other motive than love for your friends.
Like the quote from Carey Nieuwhof above, we need 300 engaged Christians instead of 3000 disengaged attendees. People will not be knocking our doors down to get in, but they do respond to your invitation. So, go invite them.