One of the hardest things about being a new pastor in a church is knowing who has been a regular, who is visiting the church for the first times, and who is back after being out of the church for a while. In many cases I don’t know the difference. While I am beginning to get the regulars figured out, I still don’t know each week if the new people are returning after a time away or if it is someone completely new to the church. I think the congregation will take the initiative to welcome back old faces who haven’t been here for a while, but I hope the people who have never been here before do not get overlooked.
But statistics tell us that most new people in the United States do not come to church out of the blue. Instead, most new people you see in any church on any given Sunday are there because someone invited them. And if you never see anyone new in your church, it’s because nobody is inviting anyone. We’ve all used and heard the excuses:
- Everyone I know goes to church.
- I’ve already asked __________ so many times.
- I’m afraid they’ll think I’m being pushy.
- What if they say no?
The problem is, most people don’t invite anyone. If you’re reading this from a Muslim country where you are subverting the firewalls put up by your country trying to keep you off the internet so you will not read about Jesus, afraid you may be tortured or killed for inviting someone to church or for sharing the Gospel, I want you to know that many of us in America pray for you often. But here in America, we do not risk torture, imprisonment, or death. It is not illegal to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ or invite someone to church. While you have legitimate reasons to be afraid of inviting someone, we do not. And the only thing I can tell you is the church has never handled prosperity and blessing well. There is an old phrase, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”. The Gospel spreads more through adversity. I pray the Holy Spirit strengthen you. (You can read how people in other countries can translate my blog or anything else here.)
But back to the church in America – September 15th is National “Back to Church” Sunday. We all know people who need Jesus. While going to church doesn’t necessarily get someone Jesus, it’s a good start. Would you invite one unchurched person to your church? The following statistics are unbelievable, but if they are anywhere close to accurate, what would happen if everyone invited one person to church? If you are in a church with 100 people and everyone invited one person, you’d have at least 150 people in church the next Sunday. They’re not coming because we’re not inviting them. And lest you think they shouldn’t need an invitation, I can tell you it is difficult to walk into a church uninvited. When so many churches call themselves a family, you never know if you’re really welcome. Here’s an article on the problems with a ‘church family’.
“Only two percent of church members invite an unchurched person to church. Ninety-eighty percent of church-goers never extend an invitation in a given year.” –Dr Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door