7 thoughts on “Inviting People to Church

  1. Phil C December 14, 2009 / 6:21 pm

    Perks, why do you think inviting people to events has replaced evangelism?

  2. Pete Matthew December 14, 2009 / 6:22 pm

    I’ve thought about this a bit more recently, whilst doing the passion for life studies in prep for next year. And i think as we engage in relational evangelism, actual evangelism, our invitationalism will improve too.

    If we don’t ‘do’ evangelism and simply ask people to events, they have no motive to come along. We’ve not engaged them on any gospel centred issue. They’ve not been confronted with anything that might make them want to come along. However, if we ‘do’ relational evangelism I think when we invite people along they will be more likely to say yes. Obviously much more to say on all of those points. But worth thinking about.

  3. Pete Matthew December 14, 2009 / 6:26 pm

    In answer to Phil, who was writing his question while i was typing my comment(!).

    I think there are several reasons. 1. People think its easier and less scary. 2. They feel underprepared to engage in a conversation which talks about Jesus. 3. It takes less time to ask someone to an event then it does to ask them what their worldview is. 4. A misconception that someone needs to hear the gospel from a recognised speaker as somehow more valid than in a normal conversation with a friend.

    But ultimately I think in our society it is a fear to take up their cross and be prepared to ‘die’ for Christ.

    • Phil C December 15, 2009 / 12:02 pm

      Pete,

      I think (1) gets it the wrong way round. I find it much easier to talk to friends than to invite them to an event where I’m not sure what will be said, and they’re put off by innumerable fears about what it will be like (some justified, some not). I don’t think time – (3) – is a factor at all, people have time to talk to their friends. And is (4) just a variation on (2)?

      I wonder if (2) is the main thing – not that people feel underprepared so much, but how they going about being “prepared”. One approach has been to reduce the gospel to easily memorisable points, like Two Ways to Live. But because it’s impossible to get them all into any (natural) conversation, it’s a logical option (if you accept that model) to invite people to events to make sure that all the points are covered. That’s not great for lots of reasons – it can encourage us to think of the message as an intellectual formula rather than a life-transforming vision of the way the world is – but I wonder if it’s one reason why people might prefer events.

      Your last point about fear is the big one. But I can think of situations where I am not afraid to talk about Jesus at all, and others where I am. It would be interesting to work out those different situations – maybe there’s a way to address our fears explicitly.

  4. Cathy December 15, 2009 / 2:12 pm

    “why do you think inviting people to events has replaced evangelism?”

    I agree with all Pete’s reasons, but I think there is another one, too ….

    Perhaps sometimes because congregations get told a lot to invite people to events, and may get less help in working out how to talk naturally about the gospel in relational ways (ie ways that you can get to in a conversation, rather than simply in the propositional, 2 ways to live style, that you might use if you were giving an evangelistic talk).

    That’s not meant as a criticism of particular churches (and certainly not of CCB since I can’t really comment, only having been once!) but a general observation based on all the (very evangelistically-minded) churches I’ve been involved in over the last 15 years or so.

    And I think I can see why it happens … It must be almost impossible for a church leader to do evangelism training that covers ‘here’s how to speak about the gospel in engaging way in the conversation you’re going to have with your co-worker/neighbour/friend next week, the content of which is still unknown’! The best way we learn how to speak well in those settings, I think, is to see/hear other older/wiser/more gifted Christians doing it frequently.
    (Or at least read about it … ‘Out of the Saltshaker’, for instance, is good on that sort of thing).

    So, maybe ‘relational evangelism’ needs ‘relational evangelism training’. Which isn’t an easy thing to incorporate into church life. Much easier to plan an event and tell the congregation to bring their friends!

    Plus, sometimes evangelistic events get plugged in church with the message ‘you know how hard it is to talk to your friends about Jesus …. well now you don’t have to. Just bring them to hear X instead’! Which may work in the short term but is counter-productive if you want to encourage relational evangelism alongside events.

  5. Lauri December 16, 2009 / 4:21 pm

    I question ‘events’ as a whole. Some anyway. I think that certainly my generation (post x) doesn’t do the lecture thing very well. I think we need to help people read the bible (and I mean really read it), rather than tell them what it says. That’s really what Christianity Explored should do, if it does not already. (And I think in part it does.)

    This criticism does not go against preaching. I think people are drawn to the spoken word, which if delivered in a commanding, compassionate and non-coercive way is attractive even if one disagrees with the content. That’s partially because my generation tends to be drown to ritual, perhaps more so than previous generations have. That also means that meeting in a gym is about as appealing as eating Kraft cheese. We might not like it, but the medium is the message, and we better get the medium right if we want to get the right message across.

    If its not just about ideas, and if the kingdom of God is Beautiful, lets be beautiful too.

    Finally I agree with the criticism of formulaic (sp?) evangelism. That cannot be relational because real relationships don’t work in a formulaic way.

  6. John Lumgair January 5, 2010 / 9:17 am

    I feel I’m coming late in to this discussion.

    I also find it much easier to talk about Jesus, than invite people to an event. Jesus is relevant to life – you can talk about him there and then. It’s very little effort on my friends part, (no getting on trains or buses etc.) It seems to me “talk while someone is interested”!

    The problem is people don’t get to see Christians in community this way, (which can be a great demonstration of Him)! I’m not sure they will see that at big events, it’s much more likely to be seen at bog-standard sunday!

    While Pete’s comments may not be true for me I think it may fit with the experiences of come of our church.

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