We’re approaching one full year of living in our new neighborhood. It’s been a great move and since the area is full of new construction, people are open to meet and visit. We’ve had numerous driveway discussions and a few weekend gatherings with our new neighbor friends.
The current message series at church has really challenged me to look at my neighborhood as a mission field where God has planted us. One of my next steps in life is to be a person of godly influence to those He’s put around me. But it’s not easy. Sometimes it seems like we’re the only churchgoers in the area. To add to that, getting into a spiritual discussion, let alone inviting a neighbor to church can be terrifying. So if God wants me to love my neighbor as myself (Matthew 22: 37-40) and I want to have that position of impact, how can I help that happen?
Thom Ranier, author and researcher of “The Unchurched Next Door,” has studied people who are non-church attenders and the results are fascinating:
- 11% would be highly interested in attending church if asked
- 27% would be very receptive to the gospel and church
- 36% are neutral to church with no outward signs of being interested, however they may be open to discussion or attending church
- 26% would be classified as having some level of resistance to the gospel and church and would probably decline the invitation
Wow—if nearly three fourths of our non-churchgoing neighbors have a good level of interest in coming to church, here are some next steps I think I can put into action. Will you join me?:
- Let’s pray: Be in prayer for those neighbors, co-workers, and family members whom you’d like to invite to church. Pray for those conversations, open hearts, and for courage and opportunities. Remember to pave the way with prayer.
- Realize it’s all about relationships: Get to know your neighbors first before you invite them to church. Who are they? What are their interests, hobbies, work, and recreational activities? Do they have children? Show real interest; be a learner. Asking interesting questions to people and listening to them may give you some great insights on how and when to invite someone to church.
- Invite someone to go with you: The best route to take is to attend church together. Arrive early, show them around, listen to their comments or reactions, buy them some coffee, have their kids check out the kids’ ministries area. Be aware of the speaking series as one may really be a great fit for that family member or neighbor.
I know we’re barely into fall, but the Christmas season will arrive on our calendars before we know it. Christmas services are the highest attended time for most people who do not frequent church on a regular basis. So, with God’s help, ask who in your world needs a special invite to church. God desires to use you in the process of bringing people into a relationship with Him—and for many it all starts with an invitation to church.
Greg has been on staff at EBC for 10 years and serves as a pastor and Central Care groups developer. He is married to his wonderful wife Sue and has two grown married daughters and five grandchildren. Follow him on Twitter @ggrimstad.