It was a simple plan. Maybe they are the best, I don’t know, but this was indeed simple. Invite a friend. The simple thought behind it was, that if everyone brought a friend to church, we would have double the people there.
And that was the plan.
So I started to cast the vision, presenting the day as one to which we could invite a friend. The promotion started six weeks beforehand, as it needs to. I have found that you can talk about things long and hard, and still, half the people won’t know about it. But I still didn’t know if it would work. People seem to be quite selective with their involvement.
We planned the Sunday, with some good songs, a couple of old ones and a couple of new ones. I had written a parody of ‘I’m a Believer’ as sung by The Monkees. We had planned a bang-up morning tea, and we were ready.
Come Sunday morning, the service was ready to begin, and a few people started coming in. It was about 20 mins before the service. There were only a few people there, and one lady came up to me, touched my arm and said, ‘It’s exciting, isn’t it?’
Nothing had happened yet, but I knew we had hit a sweet spot. Whether many people came or not, it was a success. People were getting excited about outreach. As it happened, we more than doubled our attendance that day. One lady, while walking in, flanked by two friends, proudly announced, ‘I brought two!’ Many more told me how they had invited someone who couldn’t come this time but might next time. We had found a way.
Next time we would need to do more and include follow-up, but for now, we were off to a start, and it was working. We had people in church who were not normally there. This was our first ‘Bring a Friend Sunday’.
We have just had our second. And this time, though we didn’t have as many people, the excitement is mounting. There was still a difficulty in getting the word out, particularly to those who don’t attend regularly, but there were new people in church and some who used to come but hadn’t lately. We had a few regulars who are now getting quite good at inviting a friend.
This time, it was a normal Sunday service. We had our normal two services on a Sunday, and a barbecue afterwards. Quite a few people stayed to chat. It seems that while we see a few new people in church, the greater benefit is that mission is no longer seen by our members as out of reach: it is possible, it is not too difficult, and we are doing it.
Pastor Rob Edwards serves the community at Peace Lutheran Church Gatton, in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley region.
Hear more from Pastor Rob on the Laudio (Lutheran Audio) podcast ‘Coffee, connections and country music’. Click here to listen, sign up to receive notifications when a new podcast is released and hear other podcasts, too.
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