Do you have someone in your life who you've been thinking of inviting to church? Or someone who's rejected your invitation? Maybe it's someone who accepted your invitation before but made it a one-time thing. For some people, it's easy to say, "Hey, do you wanna join me at church?" The hard part is making the invitation stick. How can we get past the awkwardness and start conversations that pique interest? What do we do if someone counters our invitation with doubt?Listen to their opinions. To have influence, we need to listen. Our first instinct is usually to convince someone that church is awesome and that they need Jesus, but most of the time, that doesn't work because it's all about us. To open doors, we need to make the conversation about them. Most of us have certain activities we enjoy and ones that we have no desire to explore. We have busy lives, and we don't want to put effort into events unless they somehow benefit us. For many people, church falls into the "disinterested" category. Your appreciation of church won't change their mind any more than someone sharing their love of chess would get me to go to a chess tournament. What they will care about is your attention to their thoughts. Ask them for their honest opinion of church, and don't invalidate their statements. Maybe they've had a bad experience, or perhaps church just seems like a foreign environment to them. If they have firmly held beliefs that conflict with Christianity, they may feel offended by the idea of church, even if they respect your views. There are a lot of reasons people don't attend church, whether they believe in God or not. To welcome people to church, we need to stop brushing off their "why nots." Let them know the discussion is open.Tell your story.We should start by listening, but we also need to share our authentic experiences. How can you relate to this person's struggles through your story? We need to move beyond "Jesus changed everything." While our main headline is that Jesus transforms our lives, this can sound vague and overly "fix-all" to unbelievers. What are some practical steps that you have taken with God? How has church helped you grow and make an impact in tangible ways? It's important to share how forgiveness has affected us spiritually, mentally, and physically. How have you experienced the difference between Jesus and self-motivation? Sharing your story shouldn't be a sales pitch, name-dropping God in every other sentence. It should be an honest discussion that shows you trust and relate to the listener.Let them know you value their presence.Holidays like Easter and Christmas are good times to invite someone to church by explaining that you would really like to share the special day with that person. Even if the person is someone super close to you, it's probably not a good idea to give them the "holiday" guilt trip. That's more likely to make them think of church as an obligation rather than something that interests them. Instead, let them know why you're looking forward to church and what you think they'd enjoy about it. If you have a lot of church friends, it's important to let your non-church friend know they'll be included and not out of place. Bring up any interests they may share with the people you know at church, and don't focus on "finally getting them to church."Follow through with fellowship.This is honestly the most challenging part. It's so easy to go to church when we feel like it and focus on God when reading our devotionals. When we treat our faith as only a belief rather than the core of our lives, it can feel forced and vulnerable to bring others into it. Everything changes (in a good way) when we acknowledge who God really is - our best friend, our Father, our Savior, and the only reason we can do all that we do. That means God isn't a topic; He is the lens through which we see every subject. When God is the center of our lives, inviting someone to church or a group will feel as natural as inviting them to coffee. We have no reason to make people feel like we're lecturing them into Christianity. If we want to genuinely disciple, we must realize that welcoming someone to church is about so much more than sending a text on a Sunday morning. And yet, it's also simpler than we make it. It's all about friendship. Friendship isn't only in a certain building; it's how we reach and receive from others. Through friendship, we include each other in our habits and show support through our actions.If you struggle to attend church regularly in person or are still searching for your home base church, you can invite your friend to explore with you (or watch online sermons together.) Engage in understanding discussions if they don't like what they hear. In "churchy" culture, it's tempting to get impatient and treat people like we're only giving them our time to bring them to Jesus, but that is not love. When someone invites you to an event they care about, try to go! Don't make it just about church; pursue a relationship that gives the other person the opportunity to share. Think about the person you want to invite to church, and ask yourself how you can be a better friend to them today.If you’re curious about church or looking for somewhere new to attend, you are welcome at Sun Valley. Check out our visit page to learn about us and you’re always welcome to join us for in-person and online services.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.