Something caught my eye as I approached the house down the street on my bike one Spring afternoon. The house had been remodeled, and there was a new tenant outside working on his car. I wondered if I should do the “neighborly” thing and introduce myself, or continue my ride. In a moment inspiration, I stopped and struck up a conversation. My new neighbor and his young family had just moved to town from out of state. We talked about the usual stuff of life for awhile. Do I invite them to Church? My pulse started to increase. I had only just met the guy. Perhaps it would be moving too fast. But something – I dare say, the Holy Spirit – silenced my inner monologue and I went for it. “Have you checked out any local churches in the area?” I asked. He gave me an interesting look. “It’s funny you should ask me that,” he said. As it turned out, their family had been a part of another faith, and were in the process of leaving. In fact, this was one of the key reasons for their move. Their entire life had been turned upside down. I told them that I worked at ACC, and I invited them to come. It would be another four months before they would walk into our doors on a Sunday morning. Fast forward: They now attend regularly, they are involved in two small groups, they’ve participated in various projects, our kids play together, people have cried with them, prayed with them, and we are blessed to have them as friends. Most importantly, they are growing in the freedom and grace of knowing Jesus Christ in a new and different way.
I could have just continued on my ride…
I used to feel awkward about inviting people to my church. Partially because I’m the guy speaking more often than not, and I don’t want to look like I’m about self-promotion. But I was convicted of this recently, especially when I listened to a message from Andy Stanley called “Invitation of a Lifetime.” I realized that my concern over what they may think of me was out-weighing the bigger question: Was I giving them the opportunity to encounter God through the message, the programs, the worship, and the community? Allow me to share a few observations from Andy Stanley’s message:
Therefore I want to challenge you to invite people to your church. Your one invitation could change a life completely.
Aside from word of mouth, here are some creative ways to extend an invitation. Obviously, face to face conversations are the best, but we could use your help with these web-based opportunities as well:
Hear me out on this: Like most businesses, Google has created a business “page” for ACC. This is the first thing that pops up when people search for Anacortes Christian Church, or even “churches in Anacortes.” As I am writing this, our “stats” report that our google page has had 2,650 views in the last 30 days alone. And this is down 14%! This is nothing to smirk at!
Now stay with me: When you are searching for a product or service, do you ever read customer reviews? I do. In fact, customer reviews tend to be the deciding factor in moving forward with a purchase or service. Our Google page currently displays three reviews, and each one is actually for the preschool (which is great), but NONE for the church itself. Anyone can click the link and write a review. So how about it? Here’s the important thing: We are not simply looking for a sales pitch, or measuring the quality of the music, coffee, and so on, But in terms of invitation, what keeps you coming back to ACC? What do you value that you would love to see someone else experience? What will they find that could change their life if they come? Tell them about it! Because what you write will literally be read by thousands of people looking at possibly setting foot in a church, and if just one of those lives is changed, it is worth it!
To write a review, simply search for “Anacortes Christian Church” in Google, and you will see our listing right away, including a button that says “write a review.” It doesn’t need to be long – perhaps a few sentences. Once finished, you can copy and paste your review into other listing services, or search engines, etc.
If you are on Facebook, there are tremendous opportunities for invitations. First, you can “follow” ACC’s facebook page. Once there, you can post a review (you can use the same one you used for Google). Beyond this, you can extend ACC’s online reach. Whenever we upload a sermon or article online (accblog.net), it automatically gets shared to our facebook page as well. But here’s the issue: Facebook recently began to decrease the amount of people exposed to anything posted to business pages. This is because they want us to pay to have our posts “promoted.” So even though there are about 240 people following us, only about 11-50 will see anything we post, unless we pay to have our reach extended. But this is not the case for anything posted to your individual page. Solution: If you were touched by a sermon, or an article, or event, please feel free to “share” it on your facebook page. Sermons are usually posted Monday mornings. You can “search” for Anacortes Christian Church in the search bar in Facebook, or Click HERE. If you see the link to the sermon, click the “share” button to post it to your own page. Historically, when a message has been shared even by one or two people, our “reach” has jumped from about 15 to 1,150 people! That one simple “click” could potentially change a person’s entire life trajectory. Again, we are not looking for dishonest gimmicks. The goal is simply to find more creative ways to expose people to the life changing message of the Gospel.
There are more ways to be an inviting presence online, and offline. Get creative, start inviting, and don’t be ashamed (Romans 1:16). May God receive all the glory!