Inviting Someone to Church without Being Awkward
By David Cannella
If you are anything like me, you wholeheartedly want to see everyone you know sitting in the row next to you on Sunday morning. You know how exciting it would be to sit next to your Dad, co worker, or the employee you see every day when you buy your gas. You are sold on the vision and God has probably even brought people to mind that you could invite. However, if you also are like me you may recognize a fear rise up in you when you imaging extending the invitation. Perhaps you have thoughts like “Will they think I’m weird for inviting them?”, “I know they probably won’t come anyway.”, or even “I don’t know what to say. If I was more like the pastor I could naturally do it, but I’ll end up saying the wrong thing.” Essentially what you and I are asking is HOW should I invite someone appropriately? How can I naturally do it in a way that does not feel forced or unnatural? We have the heart; we just need the skill to be effective.
I think the way to tackle the inviting challenge is to categorize the relationships you have and then adjust your invitation to be appropriate within the context of each relationship. For example you wouldn’t invite your Mother to church the same way you would a casual acquaintance. I’d like to propose three categories of relationships you have and give you a few ideas on how to appropriately invite a person from each category.
THOSE WHO ARE CLOSE TO YOU
The first category is your close relationships. These are your family, friends and those in your inner circle at work. You and these people know each other well. You know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You know their tendencies, talents, dreams and motivations. You have shared the good and bad times with each other. These people can tell if you are being yourself or not so when you invite them do so from your heart. Show them you genuinely care for them and you simply desire for them to experience something that is important to you and will be beneficial for them. You can invite them to church as naturally as you would to a baseball game or craft show. The simplest ask would be something like “Hey Steve I’ve told you about how this church has been impacting me in my life. Why don’t you come this Sunday with me and then we’ll grab some brunch after?” Keep it as simple as any other kind of invitation to hang out.
You may also want to add a bit of a testimony to your invitation to express a personal detail that church has helped you with in your life or a genuine concern you have for their spiritual well being. An example would be “Sara, you know how I told you I have been kind of depressed since my Dad died? Well this church has really helped me get through some of my feelings about him. We are doing a message series and I think you would like it. It would mean a lot to me if you came this Sunday.” Another is “Dan, remember how you told me you and Susan were having some parenting issues? I think this series would really help you. Why don’t you come with us and then we can have lunch afterward.” The key is to be real and ask from the heart by integrating something tangible from your relationship into the invitation.
THOSE WHO ARE NOT CLOSE TO YOU
The second category is those people in your life who you know but are not really close with. These can be co workers, a woman at day care, or the guy who does your lawn care service. This is more of a general friendly invitation. They already know and probably respect you so if you invite them somewhere they will probably be receptive. An example would be, “Bob you do such a great job on our lawn and I’m not sure if you have plans for this Sunday, but I have been attending this really cool, relevant church and I’d like to ask you come check it out with us soon. No big deal if you can’t but I was thinking of you.” They will be honored that you actually thought of them and even if they don’t come, it will still move your relationship forward. Keep it light and casual but don’t let fear stop you from asking a question that could change the course of their spiritual direction.
THOSE YOU DO NOT KNOW
The last category is people you have seen on occasion but don’t know well or people you meet for the first time. Maybe you are sitting at a Starbucks and someone sits next to you. A great quick invitation that really has no cost for you is to simply say “So, I was curious, where do you go to church? If you are looking for a relevant place I’d like to invite you to church on Sunday.” It is short and sweet and no matter what their answer is, you will feel the excitement of an influx of courage in your spirit as you take a risk.
DON’T MISS THE OPPORTUNITY
Don’t let this year pass you by without rising to the challenge of influencing the spiritual lives of the people God has placed in your life. Imaging the day when someone you know is worshiping God with their hands in the air as they stand next to you. Can you see their face as they sing out of love to the one who saved them, gave them peace and joy, sent them on a new mission and purpose and life and satisfied their soul the way only He can? That picture can be a reality but it starts with an invitation. Will you be the one God uses to take that risk? Only you can answer that.