By Joy Allmond
What kind of church culture is necessary to reach those on the outside?
On a recent Rainer on Leadership podcast of the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network, Rainer discussed six qualities of a healthy church culture that can spur a congregation to invite the unchurched people in their lives to a worship service.
1. Invitations are natural and desired.
People can sense when there’s a lack of enthusiasm and genuine joy. And if a church’s congregation—whether it’s the people in the pews, the door greeters, parking lot attendants, or welcome desk workers—aren’t projecting a natural posture of welcoming, this could deter church members from inviting others.
When there’s a joyous spirit among the first people guests encounter at a church, its members will want to share that experience with unchurched people in their community.
While the posture of the congregation is key to promoting personal invitations to church, Rainer says invitation tools, such as an invitation card with details, can better empower congregation members to invite friends and neighbors to attend church with them.
“They’ll be much more likely to do it,” he adds. “A tool like a card to hand them can make it feel more natural.”
2. First time guests become inviters.
Mary Beth is a member of the church Rainer attends. At the time of her first visit, she had recently relocated with her family and was seeking a new church home.
Even after her first visit, Rainer says, “She loved the atmosphere and started inviting people.”
When a healthy congregation is in place, Rainer says people like Mary Beth come and sense the healthy culture. They then, in turn, start inviting others, because they want them to experience the church culture for themselves.
“And I’m not talking about a specific worship style or aesthetics,” he adds. “You don’t have to have a cool, hip, contemporary worship style.”
3. The welcome team loves their ministry.
“A welcome team is a worthless team if it’s not a joyous team,” says Rainer. “And when a team is joyous, it means it’s genuine. If you have a healthy culture, your welcoming team will truly be welcoming.
“People will break out of their holy huddles … and welcome people genuinely.”
4. The pastor is naturally inclined to encourage invitations to the church.
While it’s helpful to provide information cards and other tools for a congregation to use when inviting others to church, Rainer says a crucial ingredient to a culture of invitation is a pastor who encourages people to bring their unchurched neighbors to worship with them.
“He [the pastor] loves the church and loves the people,” says Rainer. “And he reminds them that harvest is plentiful and workers are few.”
But it’s one thing to talk about inviting others to church—and another thing to actually do it. Rainer explains it’s important for a pastor to lead by example.
“If the pastor is naturally inclined to [invite others], it will be contagious,” he says.
5. The worship spirit is strong.
Rainer is cautious to point out the difference between worship style and worship spirit.
“There is a sense because there’s so much joy in the church—a healthy culture—you bring it into corporate worship,” Rainer says.
Rainer points out worship isn’t the sum of the music and preaching—it’s a reflection of the heart of the people. And when a congregation senses this kind of worship spirit, they’ll be more inclined to invite guests to church.
6. Energy and time are expended on the things that really matter.
A healthy church is outwardly focused, Rainer says.
“This means you’re focusing on something other than yourself,” he explains.
“It means it’s gospel-centered. When those things begin to happen, a church will spend energy and time on things that really matter—like reaching people, helping people, [and providing] gospel-centered messages and ministry in the community. All these things are a result of a healthy church culture.”
Rainer says the outcome of these outward-focused activities is often more people are inclined to extend invitations to church.
Church size doesn’t equal health.
According to Rainer, two-thirds of all churches have an attendance of 150 or fewer.
“That means there are a lot of small churches,” he says.
“You may be in a small church, but the opportunities are really out there. There’s a lot of hope for the small church. Leaders of these churches should understand your church can have a healthy culture which leads to the congregation inviting people to church—which can lead to inviting others to Christ.”
JOY ALLMOND (@joyallmond) is managing editor of Facts & Trends.