Let’s face it. When we invite people to church, the idea of it can be nerve-wracking.
There’s a lot of inner dialogue that happens. How do I bring it up in conversation? What if I come across as judgmental? What if I get rejected? What if I make them uncomfortable?
The tendency is to ask a lot of “what if” questions that focus on the negative side. But what if you reminded yourself of the potential, instead?
- What if God has been preparing their heart and has been waiting for me to invite them?
- What if they say yes?
- What if they’re hurting and find healing at church?
- What if they give their life to Christ, and future generations are changed because of it?
Keep those in mind, and use the tips below to overcome any fears you might have! If you’re living in a culture where Christianity—let alone church—seems like an impossible topic, you might enjoy this post about talking about Jesus with friends of any faith.
How do you bring it up in conversation?
Approach #1 – When you’re not sure whether they attend a church.
Lead with this simple question.
I was wondering, do you go to church anywhere?
If they answer yes, then the follow-up conversation is easy.
That’s great! So happy to hear you have a church home. What church do you attend?
This approach works because it celebrates the church they’re connected to and shows them you’re not trying to recruit them to your church.
If they answer no, you can follow up with an invite.
Well, if you’re ever looking for a great place to go, I go to (insert your church here) and would love to see you there!
This language is simple, casual, and friendly in tone. It doesn’t assume they’re looking for a church and leaves the decision up to them.
If they don’t ask a follow-up question or engage further, then you’ll want to leave the conversation at that. If they ask a question or share a bit of their faith journey, then it’s a good sign they’re open to hearing more.
Take the opportunity to share more about your church: why you love it, how God’s used it in your life, give them an invite card, etc.
Approach #2 – When you know someone doesn’t attend a church.
Try leading with this question:
I’m curious—did you ever go to church when you were growing up?
The key with this question is how you follow up.
This question is an easy way to start a conversation, but the real value is learning more about a person’s background with church, faith, and Christianity.
There could be many reasons why someone doesn’t currently attend a church. They could’ve had a bad experience growing up. Been hurt by people. Maybe they’ve always wanted to but never made it a priority.
Whatever the reason, you’re trying to understand why. So don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions.
- Have you ever thought about attending a church (again)?
- If you don’t mind me asking, how come you don’t see yourself going to church?
- If it’s not too personal a question, what was the bad experience you had?
The answers to these questions will help you tailor a more personal invite at the right time. Use what you learn, and ask God for wisdom on how best to invite them to church. That could be during this conversation or another time.
Is there something about your church they’d like? Is there a specific message series you can share that speaks to a situation they’re going through? Do you apologize on behalf of other Christians or churches that have hurt them?
Remember, you don’t have to invite people to church the very first time you talk to them. That can be something you work toward.
How do I avoid making a person feel judged or uncomfortable?
It’s all in the approach.
Notice the “posture” the conversation starters above take. They’re casual and friendly. They don’t assume anything and don’t force any type of answer. Pay attention to the conversation and engage as much or as little as you feel the other person is comfortable with.
That’s the key to inviting someone (or having a conversation about faith) without the person feeling judged or uncomfortable.
And don’t forget to always invite with kindness.
How you end the conversation will be how they remember your invite. So be kind, gracious, and understanding no matter the response.
What if I get rejected?
You will, but don’t let it discourage you. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s not personal.
A “no thanks” won’t negatively impact your life. But a “yes” could change someone’s life forever. Press through any fears of rejection and keep inviting! You’ll never get a “yes” if you never ask.
Another common fear is getting a negative reaction.
In my experience, almost everyone will accept your invite graciously whether they’re interested or not.
As you invite people to church, you’ll find most of your fears are not reality. Rejection isn’t as bad as you think. People generally avoid confrontation. They’re not going to be hateful toward you or feel judged by you.
Now let’s play the what if game again.
- What if they say yes?
- What if they experience authentic community and love for the first time?
- What if the church renews their faith and hope in Christ?
- What if they find their identity in Christ and walk in greater confidence?
God wants to use you. And often, it’s through a simple invite. If we do our part, God will do His part. We just have to plant the seed.
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 1 Corinthians 3:5-6 NIV (emphasis added)
Who will you invite this week?