Is it love at first sight?
Studies show that much of society makes up it’s mind within a few short minutes about what they like or don’t like about a new place. Be it a restaurant, school, or a church it does not matter. So if you are attempting to attract and retain people new to your community, you must invest a great deal of time, effort and resources on the first few minutes of a newcomer’s visit.
There is one caveat to this “truth” however.
If a new place is experienced at the invitation of a friend AND that friend is with the new person then the community has a bit longer to make a lasting impression that is positive. Sponsored visits have a much more dramatic chance of being effective than anything else we can do in my opinion.
Why do we care? Personal invitation must remain at the heart of every worshiping community. If not, we spend an inordinate amount of time, energy and resources attempting to attract and retain to the detriment of the main reason we exist.
That is not to say that we shouldn’t be friendly and outwardly focused upon new people, but it is to say that sponsors are an important part of any outreach effort.
So…the question becomes…why don’t we invite people to church on a regular basis? Fear of rejection? Fear that the friend(s) won’t like it? Bad preaching? Just don’t think about it? Figure they already attend or if they don’t there is some reason for it?
I have to say that it does not come naturally for me as I am sure many of you will agree. But neither does running, and I have somehow managed to make that a regular practice that has been greatly beneficial to me. Again, studies indicate that most folks who do not attend a church would come if invited.
So, here is the challenge. Between now and Easter, pray for God to show you one person who you can invite and bring to church. Take them to lunch afterwards and listen. Listen for signs of God at work. And pray some more.
Who’s with me on this?