We recorded 415 salvations in our Sunday morning services in 2014. How have we done that? Here are a few HOWs to our WHY of "reaching every available person by every available means at every available time with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
- Create a welcoming "grace-based" culture. We often quote the slogan "No Perfect People Allowed." It is based on John Burke's book by the same title. It is a constant reminder to us that none of us are perfect and have it all together, and therefore we shouldn't expect every one entering our church to be perfect either. Being judgmental is one of the greatest repellants for the unchurched. Our job isn't to convict sinners, that's the Holy Spirit's job. Our job is to lead people to Jesus. We don't want our desire for "neatness" and perfection in the church to hinder anyone from coming to Christ. Our determination to err on the side of grace is based on James' declaration to the early church leaders in Acts 15:19 when he said, “we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God." Is the culture you're creating judgmental or is it safe for the unchurched?
- Just ask. I had a friend in High School commit suicide when I was 18. His death rocked my world. But what was most difficult for me was the haunting feeling I had when I realized that in our 3 year relationship, not once had I ever told him about Jesus! I knew the Hope he was looking for and I was too embarrassed and too afraid of his rejection to tell him. I determined, from that point on, I would dedicate my life to introducing people to Jesus, the Hope of the world. I try not to allow a service to go by where I don't invite people to pray the prayer of salvation. Even when I know everyone in the audience, I still pray the prayer with the people. Why? Because I want our church to know that without exception, every single service provides an opportunity for their friends, family members, or co-workers to meet Jesus. The result? Our people feel comfortable to invite their unchurched loved ones to church and many are saved. I know it's not very earth shattering, but a great way to begin seeing salvations in your church is to just provide the opportunity. Just ask.
- Teach people to invite. Our people love inviting people to church because they know it's safe and that every service provides an opportunity for salvation. However, we go out of our way to teach them how to invite. We have a saying we use called "Invest and Invite." And it simply means to authentically invest in a relationship with someone who is unchurched and when the time is right, invite them to church. Thom Rainer published a statistic a couple of years ago that claimed 96% of people would attend church if they were invited by a friend. It is worth teaching our people to invite.
There are a myriad of other little things we do on a regular basis to attract the unchurched, but these are the main three elements. Notice, it's not about fancy advertising or big budgets. These are transferable to any church. So, how's your reach?