What’s the best way to get new men into church? Make it safe for your existing men to invite their friends.
Several studies have shown that most people come to church for the first time because they are personally invited by someone they know. Eighty-two percent of unchurched adults are at least somewhat interested in attending church — if they are asked.
But that’s the problem – men are reluctant or embarrassed to invite their buddies to church.
One time this subject came up when I was addressing to a men’s group in Oregon. A burly, thirty-something man who owned a road-paving company began to speak:
I love the Lord and I love my church. I’m a cradle Christian and I want others to know Jesus. I have invited the men who work for me to come to church. They come once – and never come back. When I talk about God they change the subject.
When I talk to these guys about the mission work we do in Mexico, they get excited. But when I talk to them about worship services, they are uninterested. So I’ve stopped inviting them to church. It’s just not an effective way to introduce men to Jesus.
Here’s the truth: most churchgoing men like their worship services well enough – but they are not confident their friends will like them. So they do not issue invitations.
Here are some reasons men don’t invite other men to church:
- A lack of quality in the worship service. Many churches – particularly small ones simply don’t offer a very good presentation. When a Christian finally gets up enough nerve to invite his unbelieving friend to church, the Christian quietly cringes through the service because of the off-key singing, out-of-tune piano, bad acoustics, malfunctioning microphones, and disjointed sermon.
- A lack of confidence my guest will hear something relevant. “I’ve thought of inviting other men to church, but with my luck the pastor will preach on tithing that Sunday,” said Rick from Florida. Since believers rarely know the subject of the upcoming sermon, inviting friends can be a roll of the dice.
- Fear that I’ll jeopardize the relationship with a man by inviting him to church. Men value their friendships with non-believers – and they are afraid a bad experience at their church could harm their friendships, and possibly drive some men further from God.
- The “let my light shine” approach to evangelism. Many men believe a clean lifestyle and a silent witness is a more effective approach than an invitation to church.
So how should churches respond?
- Stress the importance of an invitation. Churchgoers don’t realize many of their friends would come to church if only they were invited.
- Make sure everything your church does is done with excellence. This has been the secret of the megachurch for a generation. Churches that are producing fruit, growing numerically, and reaching men are those that pursue excellence in everything they do. Southeast Christian Church has reached tens of thousands for Christ over the past 30 years. Founding pastor Bob Russell asks, “Why have our people been so bold in inviting their friends and so effective in getting them to come? Because they are excited about what they’ve experienced and are confident that every week the grounds, the nursery, the greeting, the singing, and the preaching will be done with excellence.” Eliminate the cringe factor, and men will feel more comfortable inviting their friends.
- Make your men confident in the power of your sermons. Post your upcoming message topics online, so men know if the dreaded stewardship sermon is next week. And work hard on your creativity. When men visit church they’re expecting a dry, boring talk. But if you spice up your message with visuals, object lessons, and an element of the unexpected, you’ll see men locked in.
- Chop up the long worship sets. Imagine an unchurched friend walking into a contemporary worship service. What’s the first thing we ask of him? Stand in the dark for 15 minutes or more singing song after song. He doesn’t know the songs – and he has no idea when this will end. We tend to think contemporary worship is better for men because it’s based on rock ‘n roll. But I suspect most visiting guys would prefer a few short, peppy hymns to the long, drawn out, emotion-drenched worship sets we sing today.
Bottom line: make sure your church and its worship services are guy-friendly. Examine everything you do through the eyes of a 25-year-old construction worker, fisherman or IT professional. Ask yourself, “How would he relate to this?”
Why is this young man so crucial? Jesus chose 12 of them to be his Apostles, and together they changed the world. Get these guys into your congregation and they’ll change your church.
For more information on David Murrow and Church For Men, visit www.churchformen.com. You can contact David, check his speaking calendar, order autographed copies of his books and DVDs, and learn lots of ways to make your congregation more welcoming to men and boys. See you there.