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Invite a Friend to Church Season

Is “Invite a Friend to Church” an actual season on the Church calendar? No, but Bishop Susan is inviting all our congregations to participate in a month-long season of inviting our friends, neighbors, and loved ones to join us for worship on a Sunday of every congregation’s choice from October 13 to November 17.

Why?

In the spring of 2023, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, said loneliness is a public health epidemic. People all around us are looking for human connection, and our congregations are wonderful communities for building relationships. Moreover, the good news of Christ is announced every week in our churches—something every invitee will get the chance to hear and respond to.

Inviting others to church can be intimidating! Ensuring that others across the diocese do the same thing during the same month can give us courage. In the Mainline Church Evangelism Project led by Martha Grace Reese—a national Lilly Endowment-funded research project—denominations such as the Episcopal Church were found to be averse to inviting others to church. Inviting others to church is an exercise that we only get better at the more we practice it.

The Invite a Friend to Church season offers us the opportunity to extend the love and life of Jesus Christ to our friends and families. Our goal is to create an inviting atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and inspired by the joy of Christ. We have developed a comprehensive list of suggestions to ensure your church is fully prepared for the Invite a Friend to Church Sunday of your choosing.

Update Your Website and Social Media

Make sure your website reflects the upcoming season with relevant messaging, updated service times, and information about children and family opportunities. This helps potential visitors know what to expect and feel more comfortable attending. Schedule regular social media posts inviting people to your services. Use engaging content, including videos, testimonies, and event reminders, to capture the interest of your online audience.

Prepare Welcome Materials

Create or update welcome materials with essential information about the church, its ministries, service times, and contact details. These packets help newcomers feel informed and valued. Ensure that clear signs direct newcomers around the church, including the locations of bathrooms and welcome stations. Place welcome stations in high-traffic areas, staffed by friendly volunteers. Ensure there is clear signage directing newcomers to these stations. This reduces confusion and helps visitors feel more at ease.

Train A Hospitality Team

Train or retrain your volunteers and ushers to greet people warmly, answer questions, and provide directions. Emphasize the importance of inclusivity and making newcomers feel genuinely welcome. Encourage core families in the congregation to join the welcome team. Having families engage with visiting families creates a more personal and relatable connection.

Plan a Special Welcome

Draft a special segment during the service specifically to acknowledge and welcome newcomers. Similarly, prepare a welcome message for online worshipers to ensure they feel included and appreciated.

Physical Plant Review

Ensure that church grounds are clean and accessible. Regularly check and restock bathrooms and refresh signage, directing people to key areas like the nursery and hospitality rooms.

Pre-Emptive Thank You’s

Take a moment to thank your volunteers and staff for their upcoming support. Showing appreciation can boost morale and make people feel proud of their work at the church.

During Invite a Friend Sunday Services

Ensure that all guests are greeted warmly upon arrival. Volunteers should be easily identifiable by wearing special name tags or badges. Politely ask newcomers to fill out a contact card for follow-up. Ensure the process respects their privacy and includes an opt-in for further communications. Have a special welcome prepared for young attendees, including information about the church’s children and youth programs. This can make families feel more comfortable and valued.

After Invite a Friend Sunday Services

Within 48 hours, send a personalized thank you message or email to newcomers, thanking them for attending and inviting them to future events. Include information about upcoming church activities and ways to get involved. Encourage newcomers to follow the church on social media for updates and community building. This helps maintain their connection with the church. Host a special event for newcomers, such as a luncheon or meet-and-greet with church leadership. This provides an opportunity for deeper connections and relationship building. Provide a way for newcomers to give feedback on their visit. Use this feedback to improve future hospitality efforts and make the church even more welcoming. Consider a personal outreach effort, such as a phone call or a home visit, for those who expressed a deeper interest in getting involved with the church. This shows a level of care and commitment to fostering community.

Following this checklist ensures that Invite a Friend Sunday is a warm, welcoming, and joyous occasion for all. Let us open our hearts and doors wide, sharing the love and life of Jesus Christ with everyone who walks through our doors.

You can find more ideas and resources for Invite a Church Sunday here: www.edsd.org/invite

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Category: #Evangelism, #Worship & Formation

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