One of the tools we can use for training people to get comfortable talking with others, inviting them to our weekend worship gatherings, and eventually sharing their faith, is through special events. Special events can include the more popular ones like Easter and Christmas, but also can include Parent/Child Dedications, Mother’s and Father’s Day, and the beginning of a new sermon series.
There are at least three reasons why special events can help people move toward become comfortable sharing their faith.
Special events provide a natural opportunity to invite.
The “salesman” approach to evangelism or inviting someone to church is rejected by many believers and unbelievers alike. Such “cold call” presentations seem fake, insincere, and rehearsed. However, a special event can provide a natural way for people to invite their friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. Given that special events can provide a natural opportunity to invite others, churches should take advantage of special events by offering invitation tools for their people to use.
For example: a church beginning a series on “Making Sense of Our Decisions” can create materials to promote the series topic and main idea. As people naturally engage others in their day-to-day life, they will encounter friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors who are in the middle of making some pretty important decisions. When important decisions arise in conversation, church members can give the promotional materials, inviting them to the new series on decision-making.
If people can learn how to naturally invite others to special events, and are intentional about making sure they attend, eventually those believers can learn how to naturally invite their friends, co-workers, etc, to Jesus.
Special events provide people with a small win.
Most people who attend a church do so because of a personal invitation and it remains the case that many people are open to an invitation. However, due to fear, uncertainty or outright discobedience, very few believers, or even churchgoers, ever extend an invitation in a given year.
One of the reasons why people keep their faith, or their invite, to themselves is they fear rejection. This fear prevents them from ever experiencing the exhilaration of someone responding affirmatively.
Also, for many, when it comes to sharing their faith or inviting people to church, they don’t know where to start. It may be they don’t know where to begin the conversation, or what to say after the conversation gets started. As a result, they stay silent. Moreover, intimidation may be a factor. For many—especially introverts—the thought of talking to, sharing with, and inviting others really is intimidating.
What many people need is something to help them, something to give them confidence. Special events are exactly that; they provide an opportunity for people to experience a small win of someone accepting their invitation. Even “I’ll think about it. Thanks for the invitation.” is a small win.
A bunch of small wins may eventually give enough confidence to someone to go for the big win—to share their faith with another and see that person put their faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Special events help create a pattern of outreach.
When people invite others to a special event, they do so because they think the event will impact the invitee in a meaningful way. In other words, the special event will, in some way, meet a need in their life—regardless of whether that person realizes he or she has a need.
The invitation to special events actually creates a pattern of outreach. The whole notion of outreach—sharing one’s faith—means believers share the good news of Christ to those who are in desperate need of Christ, regardless of whether or not they realize it.
Learning how a special event may meet a need in a person’s life helps create a pattern of understanding what it means to share the gospel with another.
A small step to mission
As church leaders, we want all our people to live life on mission; I’m sure you would agree. It would be pretty phenomenal if all our people lived as missionaries, were witnessing machines constantly telling others about Jesus, and inviting people to be part of a local church. Even though this is our goal, we all know it isn’t the reality. The reality is that a small percentage are actually sharing their faith and inviting others to church.
As I stated earlier, we can take this reality and beat people up shaming them for their lack of enthusiasm and effort, or we can attempt to train and encourage them. I’m for training and encouraging. And this is where special events can be very useful. Because special events provide a natural opportunity to invite others, to experience small wins, and to create a pattern of outreach, they can serve as a catalyst to help people eventually share their faith.
Sure, this means that many people will only be intentionally inviting others four to five times a year. But—to be blunt—I think that getting most people engaged four to five times a year, through the use of special events, is a huge step forward.