If you do these three things together your church will grow. Period. There’s a reason why they’re called laws and not tips or suggestions. When you do all three growth always happens.
The good news is that these laws are simple and easy to remember. The bad news is that if they were easy to do then everyone would be doing them.
Here are the laws:
- Invite lots of people.
- Don’t suck.
- When people come – have them come back.
Of course, everything depends on the implementation. 😉
1. Invite Lots of People
There are two ways to do this – individually and corporately. Doing it both ways at the same time is always best.
Individual invitation is when an individual member of your congregation personally invites someone to church. There have been studies done in Canada and the United States that have shown that 80% of non-church attenders would visit a church if they were invited by a friend. An 80% response rate is amazing and easily the best way to reach new people.
There are, however, a number of things that can hinder individual invitations:
i) Some of your people will not have any friends, others will only hang out with other Christians, and still others actively dislike anyone outside of the church.
ii) Some of your people are very shy and have no idea how to talk to people outside of their Christian bubble.
iii) Your church might suck and your members are smart enough not to invite anyone they actually care about.
All of these hindrances can be removed with the ordinary tools in your pastoral tool box – discernment, leadership, preaching, teaching, and equipping.
Corporate invitation in when your congregation invites a large number of people collectively through advertising. One of the best ways to do this is with professional quality direct mail (check out these guys). You should get a 1-2% response rate with a high quality campaign. While this is a far cry from the 80% response rate of a personal invitation by a friend, simply targeting 5,000 homes should bring you 50-100 first time visitors- that’s enough to double the size of the average church! Of course, you can also do it for less and do poor quality armature flyers for half the cost and get a 0% response rate, but that would be dumb.
2. Don’t Suck
There are really two things to understand here:
i) Unkempt yards, dingy buildings, dirty nurseries, boring sermons, outdated music, and unfriendly people all suck – fix this. Since you actually have a real choice here, try choosing to be awesome in everything you do – it’s Biblical and it works.
ii) The way you bait your hook determines what kind of fish you’re going to catch. Most churches are baiting their hooks for fish that have been dead for 200 years. This is dumb – don’t do that. Re-think everything you do (and I mean everything) and reform it to suit the fish you’re trying to catch.
3. When People Come – Have Them Come Back
There are a couple of things you can do here as well.
i) Work on your assimilation system. Walk through your church through the eyes of a first-time visitor and see what you can see. Where do you park? What doors do you come in? How are you greeted? Can you see where the restrooms are? Do you know what to do with your kids, etc. Think this through carefully. If you can’t imagine how alien your church might feel to a visitor – try going to a Greek Orthodox service and you’ll soon understand.
ii) People come to church for many reasons, but they only stay for one – that they’ve made good friends there. You can preach while standing on your head and juggling fire, but that won’t keep people unless they’ve made friends. Put together a good small groups system and develop some easy on-ramps for new people to be informed and get connected.
Now you know – go out and do.
1. Equipping your people to be inviters
The Laws of Outreach – Part 5: Equipping Your People to be Inviters
2. Mass outreach
The Laws of Outreach – Part 3: Attracting Visitors
3. Not Sucking
5. Small Groups