Over the last year since we have been tracking it, we have not had one service where there was at least one student who was not invited and came for the first time. I know, crazy. Not saying this to brag but saying this because this is the culture in which we have been striving for the last 3 years.
There are quite a few reasons, to be honest. But one of them has come from taking a good, hard look at our services and asking some very tough questions about them. Questions in which could hurt your heart if you do not come to these questions with a humble heart.
These questions are not to be mean, but to be honest with how your service operates if you really want an inviting culture with your group. These are questions we asked and worked through ourselves.
- Is your service/gathering worth being invited to?
- We went through a year-long re-do to make sure our service was the best thing we can do. Unapologetically, we just focused on our service and our service only to make sure it was something worth to be invited to. If your students are not excited about your service, they won’t be excited to invite friends. Ouch. I know, but it’s the truth. So what does that look like for you?
- Trust is key. The first few events you throw will not be for the new student. It will be building trust with your current students. Once you begin creating a space where your students want to be, they will start to invite their friends. The first few events you throw is showing your own students you can put on something they can get excited about and once they feel that, then they will begin inviting friends to those events and services too.
- Is the language that you use, new-person friendly?
- Do you use Christian language and not explain it? Most of the time, we just talk and do not even realize that we can make new students feel uncomfortable.
- Do you explain worship, prayer, communion, baptism etc.? Or do you just go about all of those things assuming everyone knows what is happening. Think through a new student who has no church background… all of those things are weird. Let’s be honest. Do you explain to them so they understand?
- An example: Every service before we go into our time of worship through music we do a “call to worship” every single week. Someone will get up and explain the next 15 minutes are about to go into assuming there is a new, un-churched person in the room every service. We want people to know why we are singing, to read the words, why worship is important, why people are raising their hands and jumping up and down. Make this a part of your service and new people will understand and your service will feel way more inviting.
- Is your service/gathering have the new person in mind when they do show up?
- Do you have anything for new people? Do you make them stand up in front of everyone? Do you let them be anonymous?
- We have a new student area in our service, right before our music section, where we invite new students to make themselves known by filling out a card and giving them a full-size candy bar.
- Leaders are the ones running this area, so whomever they meet will call/text them before the next week and I will call/text them as well. Two invites back before the next week makes for a really welcoming place.
These are just a few questions we have asked over the past few years in order to have an intentional inviting to new people service. I’m sure there are more so I would love love to hear some of the hard questions you have asked when creating an inviting culture for your group.