5 Strategies for Extending Church Invitations

by Mark MacDonald

Pastors all over the world have read the Scripture where Christ talks in a parable about the Kingdom of heaven. He describes the reigning ruler who throws a wedding party for his son. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? We’ve prepared all the details and then we wonder how many will be able to come.

People are busy. We all have lives that are heavily involved.

The parable continues with the worst-case scenario possible. No one shows up. This is a disaster. The story goes on with repeated efforts to bring people to the banquet table. And then the monarch utters the memorable words, “Go into the highways and byways and compel them to come in.” And it works.

But how does this play out today?

We live in a busy world. There’s the desire to play golf on Sunday; the best news shows are on during “church” times, and then there’s the passion for just one day of the week to sleep in. We also have busy, important jobs; lawns needing mowing; e-mails that have piled up; and I won’t mention the Twitter feed that hasn’t been reviewed for days.

With all these demands on their time, why on earth would people want to go to church, let alone your church? Quite frankly, it’s an hour (or more) out of the week that is hard to give up. I hope I’m not convincing any pastors reading this to stay at home, although it may just be tempting.

Here are some lessons that can be learned from the parable in Matthew 22 – except I’m going to tell the story in simple, modern language. Because, as with all Scripture, it’s as relevant today as it was when written.

Once upon a time (this is the way we start stories that have a deeper meaning, right?), there lived a man named Pastor King. For several months, he looked forward to a very special event that was coming up in his church.

1. Make sure you have an event worthy of transporting people out of their busy lives. Remember, it doesn’t have to be on Sunday or even involve pews or praise choruses. In fact, you’ll be surprised how many unchurched people want to help in the community or build a missionary’s home. Some of the best “outreach” work that a church does happens outside of the building – or in your gym or multipurpose room.

The pastor spent a lot of time and effort preparing every detail of his event. He knew that everyone would enjoy it. So, he invited people that he thought would come. And it was a disaster. No one had time.

2. Everyone is busy, so don’t even expect that your own congregation will show up for your event. And even worse, don’t go out and try to get other “churched” people to switch to your church (just to fill seats). It’s not always the “expected people” that God wants at the bash. Identify your church’s strengths and then pray about who God wants you to minister to.

The best food was prepared and ready to be consumed. …


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