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The number one reason people give for showing up to a service for the first time is because a friend invited them. In fact, 75 and 80 percent of people visit a church for the first time because of an invitation from a friend. So, why are some churches growing and others aren't? Our friend, Carey Nieuwhof invited Rich Birch to share about the area that is impacting our churches the most - invitability!

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What is the biggest difference between churches that are growing and those that aren’t?

Growing churches are full of people who invite their friends.

What separates churches that have plateaued or are in decline from those that are seeing growth is that growing churches are "inviting" churches.

“Invitability” describes how a church is growing its ability to have its people invite friends and family. It’s a key approach at the core of thriving churches.

How likely are people in your church to invite their friends and family to attend your church?

What are you doing to encourage your people to invite others to your church?

What tools have you given to your people to enable them to help create the culture of invitation you are developing?

Do your people understand that a part of being a follower of Jesus is reaching out to the world around them? That being an “inviter” is an essential part of every Christian’s life?

Here are five questions about church invitability to consider as you think about how this dynamic impacts the growth of your church.

1. Wait...Invitability Isn't a Real Word, Right?

True! It’s totally made up. We created it to capture this idea that some churches seem to be easier for people to invite their friends to than others.

I imagine a scale of invitability. On one end is a church whose people don’t ever invite friends to join them on Sunday while on the other end of the spectrum are churches that are growing because its people are constantly saying to their friends, “You have got to see what’s happening at my church this weekend!”

Even though invitability isn’t a real word, its meaning has a very real impact at your church. In fact, the invite culture of your church is at the very heart of your church’s ability to reach its full redemptive potential.

2. Why Is Invitability An Important Factor In Church Growth?

On average, only 2% of people invited a friend to church in the last year.

The factor separating churches that are growing from those that aren’t is that growing churches have a robust invite culture. They are high invitability churches. Their people are more likely to be active in asking their friends and family to attend.

A sustained strategy for church growth needs to be built around invitability. Rather than looking at the latest shiny marketing tool, church leaders who are working for continual growth focus their efforts on increasing the invite culture of their churches.

The local church is the only organization in the world that exists for people beyond its walls. Our mandate is to be constantly looking to consider the needs of other people and inviting them into a relationship with Jesus. Unless our churches have a strong approach to increasing invitability we will fail to live out the mandate that Jesus called us to in the Great Commission.

Inviting someone to church is just a first step towards discipleship and evangelism. Invitation shouldn’t be reserved for “super-Christians” who see it as their duty, but it needs to become a normal practice for all Christians!

3. How Can A Church Leader Measure The Level Of Invitability At Their Church?

The best way to start your journey towards understanding invitability and its impact on your church is to explore your experience with inviting people to your church. Start by exploring your own experiences with inviting as well as those of people close to you. Take a few minutes and answer these questions to gauge the level of invitability at your church:

  • When was the last time you invited someone to your church?
    • If it was recently, what happened when you asked? What happened when your friend came to church?
    • If you haven’t recently invited someone, why not? What is holding you back?
  • Think of the last time someone at your church invited a friend and told you about it. Did they indicate that it was a positive or a negative experience?
    • What part of that experience went well?
    • What part of that experience was negative?
  • How urgently does your church sense the need to reach the community around you?
    • If it’s low urgency, what can you do to increase the vision for community impact at your church?
    • If it’s high urgency, are you connecting with and making an impact in the community and consistently inviting people to church?

4. What Invitability Factors Of Your Church Are People Most Likely To Talk To Their Friends About?

A recent study by Gallup asked people to rate the reasons they attend church. It would be fair to infer from this study that these top four factors are the ones that those who are inviting people to your church talk about the most. Churches that are looking to increase their invitability would be wise to invest time, effort and energy into these four areas:

    • Sermons that teach you more about scripture
      • People are looking for transcendent truth, not a repackaged TED Talk. This probably goes without saying, but at the core of churches with high invitability is teaching that is based on the Bible. These churches are teaching timeless truths.
    • Sermons that help you connect faith to your own life
      • It’s not enough to just teach from the ancient text but people need us to connect it to today’s reality. Churches with high invitability have learned that when they handle the Bible their teaching also needs to answer the question, “What difference does this make in my life today?”
    • Spiritual programs geared toward children and teenagers
      • Nearly 9 out of 10 adults will be parents at some point in their lifetime. Raising kids is a universal human experience. Every parent worries about their kids and wants the best for the next generation. Churches with high invitability know the importance of passing the message of Jesus on to the next generation in a compelling manner.
    • Lots of community outreach and volunteer opportunities
      • People want to make a difference in their world. We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We’re eager to be a part of a church that serves the community around us.

5. How Can a Church Leader Learn More About Church Invitability?

How “invitable” is your church? How is invitability connected to church growth?

What can you do to gain momentum in seeing your church reach more people this year?

Invitability is at the core of prevailing churches. Understanding how invitable your church is is the first step to reaching more people. Church leaders who want to see their churches grow should be wrestling with invitability and its impact.

What is the biggest thing you need to change to improve your invitability?

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Find Carey Nieuwhof's 5-Day Church Invitability Challenge and the original article "5 Questions About Invitability and It's Impact On Your Church" by Rich Birch.