Attending a new church can feel intimidating, no matter where you are in your faith journey. This is especially true when visitors have feelings of unworthiness, guilt and anxiety. Perhaps they don’t have a working knowledge of the Bible or the service structure – when to sing, sit, stand, kneel, etc.
Invite To Church? We’re Not Sending You One…
Whatever the hesitancies, there is likely interest in our communities to learn more about what exactly goes on at church. Are people comfortable enough to accept a direct invitation to visit? Perhaps they need a more indirect approach – a gradual launching pad, so to speak. Here are five suggestions that might help change up our messaging.
“We’re Not Inviting You to Church…”
Wherever we invest in marketing, whether online, direct mail, or both, let’s take time to periodically extend an invitation to our neighbors with a simple and compelling message. Instead of leading with the text, “Come to Our Church!” perhaps we should consider a more subtle, casual theme. For instance, telling them that we’re not inviting them to church (not yet, at least) might catch their interest. Perhaps we can offer them a cup of coffee with a web link to receive a $5 gift card.
Offer Ways to Digitally Engage
Consider including practical online resources on a welcome page. Perhaps embed a video or blog on strengthening marriage or family finances. This is a simple way to begin to building meaningful relationships beyond a weekend church service opportunity.
Visit Us Online Before You Come in Person
Consider including a note within an outreach campaign that says, “We invite you to visit us online. We understand that attending church might be a new idea. Check us out online first and then join us when you’re ready.” Streaming services or offering audio can be an excellent way to help people feel more comfortable.
Give Them Access to Your Schedule
What happens when a prospective visitor shows some level of interest? Perhaps they’ve signed up for a coffee gift card or made a comment on a blog. They might have questions. Offering them a way to set up an in-person meeting might be a good, next step. It offers another opportunity for someone to more gradually assimilate into church life.
Extend the Ask, Once They’re Ready
If we envision an online welcome page, sharing dates and times of your primary services and any special events, is a natural way to extend an invitation. We can then encourage them to visit when they’re ready, and invite them to be in touch as if they need further guidance or questions answered.
In the end, Jesus wants us to make disciples of all people. Sometimes we need to be more patient, discerning and prayerful as God calls people to himself through the work of our hands.
Brett Bzdafka is a former Pastor and Bible Professor. He has a BA from the Moody Bible Institute and MDiv from Columbia International University. As Church Development Manager at BoxCast, a live video streaming company founded and led by believers, Brett enjoys connecting with church leaders and enabling them to spread their ministry beyond the walls of their church through technology.