6 Ways to Improve Your Invite
Throughout the Gospel, people learned about Christ through personal relationships. And today, relational evangelism is still one of the most effective strategies God gives us to reach the One for Christ and grow the 99 as disciples. During an IGP, one common discovery is that a church has lost its focus on relational evangelism. They’ve stopped inviting, they’re not praying for lost friends, intentionally making new friends, not sharing stories with those who need to hear them.
Most days, church leaders and teams are surrounded by Christians – staff, small groups, like-minded friends. Without an intentional focus on the One, we could all be isolated from the very people we’re called to reach.
At West Side Church in Springfield, IL, Lead Guy, Eddie Lowen, has always emphasized relational evangelism. With an average attendance of 3,000, he and his team knew they’d need to lead in fresh ways if they were going to continue to break growth barriers in Springfield.
Today, West Side is fast approaching 4,000 in average weekly attendance, up significantly since they began a fresh focus on relational evangelism. There’s even an aggressive campus expansion plan, something they hadn’t initially imagined.
Melissa Sandel, IC Coach and Director of Ministries at West Side will tell you that while they are constant learners in this area, taking small intentional steps to develop the invite culture has fueled growth at West Side. She shares that West Side didn’t initiate any major changes to fan the flames of relational evangelism, rather “Just a bunch of small but intentional tweaks. The 99 to One conversation and friend-to-friend concepts continue to drill deeper into our thinking. Now we frame much of what we do to encourage inviting.” Melissa shares six intentional tweaks that made all the difference at West Side.
- Come Every Week & Invite a Friend
At First Step (our monthly, one-hour experience for newbies), we tell newcomers that the best way to maintain spiritual momentum and join what God is doing at West Side is to “come every week and invite a friend.” They only have to be one step ahead of someone to lead them to God—and if they’ve visited church once, they’re one step ahead. God uses the newest of people to bring hope.
- Lean in to Seasonal Alignment
Christmas is a huge deal for us, so we encourage our people to invite everyone they know. And then, during Christmas at West Side, we invite everyone back (with an exciting promo) for our most popular series, At the Movies. Being intentional at Christmas to offer an easy next step has increased our invitation frequency and the “stickiness” of guests.
- Provide Creative Series Invites
We remind people to invite others to every series and we provide a variety of creative invites for them to use. Before a big series, we ask people to pull out their phones and send an invite “right now” and we give them the language to do it. We celebrate texting in service that day and we make it fun and easy!
- Affirm the Inviter
We regularly ask newcomers, “How did you come to West Side?” When we’re told they were invited by a friend, we try our best to contact that Westsider and affirm how God is honoring their courage to invite others.
- Tell Stories
Our discipleship program, Rooted, devotes an entire week to helping others learn to tell their story and share Jesus with friends.
- Leverage Baptisms
Before a person is baptized, we help them think through how they might best use this major event in their lives to invite others who would otherwise never come to church.
As disciples of Christ, there is something that sets us apart when we give up our Christian desires and needs to go after the One through relationship. Giving up our desires in order to see others saved – it’s the most we can be like Christ.