In my last article here in The Citizen, I shared with you an article I wrote for a new church that’s getting started in Atlanta. My title, “You’re Number One,” revealed the most important aspect for church growth, that is, members of the church inviting their family and friends.
What follows here is my follow-up article for that church’s newsletter, in which I go into details of how each member of the church can actually step out in faith and action and invite someone to attend church with them.
So here we go. How churches grow: “The Ask.”
What I write here today is certainly not new or unique information. Google “How to invite family and friends to church” and you’ll get hundreds of articles expounding and encouraging on this topic. The same is true for YouTube, with dozens of videos, both extremely serious and also appropriately funny, showing the “Do’s and Don’ts.”
Here’s a list of “5 tips” with which I concur, and I invite you to consider using as your “game plan” to invite someone, family and friends, to join you for our glorious Easter Service, celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Sunday, April 9.
1. Believe with all your heart that it is the Call of Jesus to invite others into His presence and into worship of and belief in Him. Do these words of Jesus sound familiar? “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations (I must add, “beginning with those closest to you”), baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the earth.” Matthew 28:19-20.
All of this, “making disciples, baptizing, teaching, etc.” begins with “The Ask.” We do believe “with all our hearts” that Jesus is the Savior of the whole world, and that He is the only source of real hope or joy or strength or peace. We believe that! How can we not ask others to come with us into this wonderful knowledge and experience?
2. Before actually asking someone to join you for Easter Service, pray to God. Speaking of “asking,” ask God to give you courage and a calm spirit as you ask a friend or family member to join you. Ask God to send you His Holy Spirit to strengthen you and empower you. And certainly ask the Holy Spirit to use your “ask” as a way for Him to touch the hearts of the ones you ask, so that they are receptive and will respond affirmatively.
Pray, “Come Holy Spirit, use me, and let my invitation bear fruit. Amen”
3. I have used two phrases already several times that are key to your “Ask.” I have said, “Ask them to join you” and “Ask them to come with you.” This is key, key, key! Make it clear to your friends or family that it is a “group thing.” You will pick them up. You will meet them in the parking lot. They will go in with you. They will sit with you. You’ll be with them the whole time to answer any of their questions or to explain anything to them that they might not understand.
Treat your guests as your guests, not as “visitors.” You don’t invite visitors over to your house for supper. You invite guests. That’s a good thing for the whole church to remember as new people come to our church.
Those who do polls as to why people do not start going to church, find that it is the natural fear of not knowing where to go, what to do, when to participate. We’d be that way, too, if it were all unfamiliar to us. So, in asking, make it totally clear that they’re going “with you” to the Easter Service. You won’t “leave them hanging.” And its O.K. to have questions and not “get” everything. Chances are pretty good that the Holy Spirit will move them to come.
4. Even though you’ll be with the people you’ll invite, it’s still good, even as you’re asking them, to tell them as much about our church and church service as possible.
Another article I read said that what people are looking for is a good clear message (sermon) based on the words and truth of the Bible. Tell them that our pastor, Pastor Clark, always delivers a clear Biblical message that relates to our everyday lives. Tell them that our whole service is based on the Bible, with meaning and significance for our spiritual growth and enlightenment. Tell them our whole service is the ancient form of worship, with liturgy and hymns that connect us not only to God and His Son Jesus, but to each other and the generations of believers who came before us and the ones that will follow us.
Tell them our church is a traditional church that holds to the best of the past and brings that tradition to speak the love and truth to our modern world.
Tell them that many people “dress up a bit, especially on Easter,” but tell them that many people often come in “work casual” attire, too.
Tell them we have a growing Children’s Ministry and we love kids, even the noisy ones.
Tell them you’d like them to think about coming with you the Sunday and Sundays after Easter, too.
5a. Ask now. Let them plan ahead. Give them time to make sure their schedule is cleared for Easter. Show respect for their calendars and their schedules that, to this point, have not included church on Sundays. Ask now. Ask now.
5b. Follow up. Stay in touch. Gently and kindly remind them that you’re excited to be going to Easter Service with them.
Pastor Clark, our Evangelism Committee, and the whole church will be praying for you as you plan your “Ask.” If you want or need further information or encouragement, don’t hesitate to ask Pastor Clark or any of our retired pastors in the congregation. We would love to “cheer you on.”
Finally, and again, “How do churches grow? The Ask!”
[Dr. Justin Kollmeyer, a thirty-seven year resident of Fayette County, is a retired Lutheran pastor. He offers his preaching and teaching pastoral ministry to any group seeking or needing a Christ centered and traditionally grounded sermon or teaching. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.]