By Diana Davis
The simple act of inviting friends and acquaintances to your church can impact eternity.
A study by Lifeway Research found about two-thirds of churchgoers made it a point to invite someone to church in the last six months, but nearly a third said they hadn’t extended an invitation to anyone.
As God puts people in your life pathway, will you intentionally invite them?
You can do this! Here are 52 ideas to help you get started. Some are for individuals; others can be adapted for your small group or the entire church.
1. Order business-card-size invitations for church members to use. A few times per year, give a small bundle of cards to each church member.
Encourage them to carry the cards, ready to invite someone to church. Keep extra cards available at the church.
2. When you grab lunch at a drive-through restaurant, give the person who takes your order a printed invitation to church.
3. Make a new commitment to invite people every week. Make a checklist of people you often encounter: grocery clerk, boss, teacher, physical therapist, friend, yard guy, nail tech, relative, hair stylist, food server, dentist, mail carrier, employee, neighbor, etc.
4. Walk your dog. Jog. Stroll. You’ll meet lots of people you can invite to your church.
5. Your personal social media (Facebook, etc.) offers a great way to invite people. Post a photo, tell a story about how church impacts your life, link to the church website, or say “Join us Sunday at 10!” You never know who’s reading.
6. If your church is in a walkable area, use chalk to draw fun invitations to church on the sidewalks.
7. Spend time in your front yard. Water the lawn, sit on the porch, plant flowers, do projects, garden, putter around. Visit with neighbors who walk by, get to know them, and invite them to church.
8. Put a Christian book or your Bible on your desk. When someone comments about it, chat about your relationship with God and your wonderful church. Invite them.
9. Host a free car wash at church for the community. Accept no donations. Print custom air fresheners with a Scripture verse or saying, church name, and website. Offer a friendly, personal invitation to church, and hang a freshener on their rearview mirror.
10. Plan a neighborhood gathering to get to know your neighbors. It could be a cookout in the yard, a dinner, an ice cream or watermelon party. Play corn hole or volleyball, or just put out lawn chairs and hang out. Invite.
11. Go garage sale shopping, buy something, and invite the host to your church. Or host a garage sale at your church. Be friendly and give each guest a printed invitation to worship services.
12. To invite friends to the annual ladies luncheon or men’s campout, send an “Evite” or create a “Facebook event.” They’re simple and effective, and friends can RSVP to you.
13. Coach a kids’ ball team, represent Jesus well, and conclude the season with a backyard cookout. Invite kids’ families to join you for church, and sit together as a group.
14. Notice outdoor needs around your church or home. Mow an overgrown lot, salt or shovel sidewalks, paint a house or public playground, clean up litter, improve a park. Any person who stops while you’re working receives an invite to church.
15. Place church invitations and brochures at church entrance doors. Random people come into your building often, for directions, weddings, funerals, childcare, repairs, meetings, deliveries, etc. Give a personal invite to anyone who comes into the church office.
FOR MORE OUTREACH IDEAS TO TRY, READ “52 IDEAS FOR YOUR CHURCH THIS YEAR.”
16. Invite someone while you’re on the way to church. A neighbor getting his newspaper, an acquaintance at the donut shop, a student you pass in the dorm. Be ready to invite.
17. Simply forward the event info from your church website to invite a friend to a church Easter egg hunt, music concert, or new class.
18. Print great-looking graphic church T-shirts. Include the church name and website. T-shirts can start many conversations to invite people to church.
19. Host a community-wide outdoor movie night, projected on a wall, or a music concert on the church lawn. Or plan a series of monthly concerts in summer. Serve popcorn and cold drinks, and invite guests to church on Sunday. Just make sure to first secure proper licenses for showing movies or performing songs to comply with copyright laws.
20. Regularly attend local sports events, such as Little League, high school, college, professional, baseball, softball, football, soccer, etc. Get to know other spectators. Invite them to your church.
21. Gather a small group from church and volunteer to host a water station at a local running event. Wear church T-shirts, cheer for participants, and invite.
22. If your church offers a van to church for a local nursing home (or other group), bake homemade cookies, package them individually, attach an invitation that tells the time and place to catch the van, and deliver to invite each resident.
23. Purchase a Law Enforcement Officer’s Bible for local police (or a Bible specifically designed for firefighters or EMS workers). Write a note of prayer and appreciation inside along with an invitation to come to your church on Sunday.
24. At Vacation Bible School registration, ensure every guest’s parent receives a personal invitation to church, a printed invitation, and a list of classes for children and adults. And make sure each VBS leader is committed to personally inviting guests to church.
25. Join or volunteer in a community organization, or take a class, with the intention to invite new acquaintances to church. The group could be the PTO, book club, business or community group, board game group, golf league, exercise group, college class, etc.
26. During a building project or road construction near your home or church, gather church members to grill a delicious meal for the workers. Give each person a verbal and printed invitation to Sunday’s worship service.
27. Deliver a welcome gift and church invitation to new move-ins in your community. Subscribe to a service or ask members to call if they see someone moving into their neighborhood. A volunteer delivers a welcome packet and homemade goodies or gift.
28. Enter a team from your church for the local community-wide contest or event, such as boat race, fun run, or chili cook-off. Wear church T-shirts, have fun, and invite people.
29. Invite the families of your church’s daycare or parents’ day out participants. For example, send an invitation note with a pre-registration form for Vacation Bible School, a flyer about the Fall Festival, or a list of children’s and parents’ activities at church.
30. Plan a huge one-hour “Shadow of the Steeple” blitz to invite residents in every home within a mile (or a block) of the church. Members get a street assignment and church info packets. They knock on doors, invite them to church, and ask how they can pray for them.
Even better, deliver a Bible to each home with the invitation. My church, Olive Baptist in Pensacola, has a big cross atop the building, so the event is called “Shadow of the Cross.”
LOOKING FOR WAYS TO INVITE YOUR NEIGHBORS? TRY THIS NEW MOVERS PROGRAM.
31. Get to know your child’s school teacher, coach, or physician. Invite him or her to your home for a casual dinner. If they don’t have a church, invite them to yours.
32. Create a beautiful, big basket of shiny apples for the teacher’s lounge at a nearby public school. Deliver it during a teacher workday. Hang a pretty prayer note and invitation to church from the handle.
33. Host “First Day, Moms Pray” coffee on the first day of school. Members invite lots of other moms to the half-hour prayer for kids and teachers, then moms hang around for coffee, snacks, and fellowship. Provide a list of church activities and a personal invite.
34. Arrange a van to provide pickup for students at a nearby university. Get permission to post a sign in freshmen dorms as they move in and give a number they can text for a lift to worship.
35. Tailgate at local sports events. Have fun, serve hot dogs, talk with people, and pass out church invitations. Your small group could do this together and keep a tally of who invited the most people.
36. Begin new small groups for specific groups of people—newlyweds, new retirees, community newcomers, singles age 32-49, etc. Advertise well and ask members to invite their friends.
37. “Bring a friend” days can be amazingly successful for a church or small group. Or get more specific, and bring a neighbor, bring a co-worker, bring a teacher, bring a sports fan (wear team shirts). You could make it contest and give a fun prize.
38. Pass out yummy treats and a church invitation to children who come to your home on Halloween. You might include an imprinted pencil or other item. Or if you’re trick-or-treating with your children, give an invitation card at each house.
39. Order political-type yard signs that state, “I go to Calvary Church. Join me Sunday? [add your church’s website]” Ask all church members to display them on their lawn for 10 days. Members will also enjoy discovering members in their area of town.
40. Each time you go to the church building, click “check in” on your Facebook account. Also, “like” your church’s Facebook page and it will show on your site. Friends notice!
41. Recruit a team from your church for a local ball league or bowling league. Have fun, ask an opposing team to meet for ice cream after the game, and invite them to church.
42. Include an invitation to church with church benevolence projects. If you collect “Coats for Christ,” put an invitation to church in the pockets. If you bag food for the needy, attach an invitation to the package or write it on a can.
43. Create a fabulous float for the community parade. Add friendly walkers or skaters to distribute church invitations to parade-goers.
44. Host a neighborhood Christmas party at your home or plan a neighborhood Easter egg hunt in your yard. Give each guest an invitation when they leave. Plan the date carefully so you can invite them to a special holiday event or worship.
45. Design “come to my baptism” invitation cards and e-invitations to help brand new Christians invite friends.
46. On a big snow day, build lots of snowmen across the church lawn, as if they’re going to church. Snowmen hold pre-prepared signs: “Let’s go to church,” “Meet us Sunday at 10,” or “It’s warm in there!” When people stop to watch, give them an invitation.
47. Purchase ingredients for hot cocoa, with marshmallows and lidded disposable cups. Set up a drive-through at church on a cold winter day with big signs: “30-second stop for FREE HOT CHOCOLATE.” Give them a warm invitation to church with their drink.
48. Adults, teens, or children can handwrite notes of appreciation and prayer to the local fire station, elected official’s office, police, or sheriff’s department, etc. Deliver them, along with a nice snack basket and a printed invitation to your church.
49. Plan play-dates with your children’s friends and parents. Invite them to church, and plan to meet for burgers nearby afterward. Get your children involved. They can invite friends to church just as well as you!
50. Talk about your church in everyday conversations—on the bus, in the break-room, at the beach, riding the subway, in the coffee shop, your knitting class, the Uber car, the grocery line, the waiting room. Just chat and invite naturally.
51. Order car window stickers with the church’s name, or magnetic bumper stickers that say, “Follow me to Grace Church,” and share an invitation when someone asks about it.
52. Add an extra line under your personal email automatic signature. It might say “Check out my awesome church: [link to your church’s website]. Join me there next Sunday?”
As God puts people in your life, will you intentionally invite them? Jesus commands His followers to bring lost people to know Him. You have a unique circle of influence, and your personal invitation can influence them toward Jesus. Invite!
Diana is an author and minister’s wife, living in Pensacola, Florida.