How many new neighbors have moved into your area in the last year? Have you welcomed them to the neighborhood and introduced yourself to them? In the streets around Our Savior I’d guess there are at least ten new neighbors we’ve had move into the community over the last year, with about five having moved in since the fall! As Christmas approached I began to wonder, “Where would they celebrate the birth of Christ in worship if they are from out of the area and that is a part of their Christmas tradition? Shouldn’t the church in their “backyard” be reaching out to invite them to join us on Christmas Eve?”
So with this in mind I went out on a Sunday afternoon and knocked on all ten doors, introduced myself as both the pastor of the Lutheran church down the street and their neighbor. I welcomed them to the neighborhood and said, “I don’t know if it’s a part of your tradition but if you are looking for a place to celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve I wanted to invite you to join us.” I then gave them one of our LCOS brochures and the business card sized advertisement of our Christmas Eve worship times and styles. Then I said good-bye. To those not home I simply placed the brochure and card in the door. Not as personal, but at least they know we stopped by.
Do we just assume people who move in near our church will automatically start attending Our Savior (thereby making us better known as The Church of the Most Holy Convenience?) Maybe we assume they aren’t Lutheran and will be looking for their “brand” of church in town and if they are Lutheran they’ll just start to come. Either way we excuse ourselves from being intentionally invitational in welcoming them to the neighborhood and inviting them to join us for worship, fellowship, or service events. I believe Our Savior provides inspiring worship. I believe our social ministry programs make a significant difference in the lives of those in need in our area. I believe our faith education ministry deepens participants’ relationship with God and God’s people. Why would we not invite newcomers in our neighborhood to experience this as well with us?
The number one way people begin attending and then join a church is from a personal invitation from one of its members. It’s not because of advertising or simply because we have worthwhile worship and ministry programs. It’s because someone intentionally invited them to join them for worship or attend one of those ministry programs.
So how do you intentionally invite someone to attend either Our Savior in worship or another event? Here is my suggestion.
- Identify who the “new” people are in your neighborhood, school, work, or other organizations in which you participate.
- Introduce yourself and welcome them to the community. In addition to sharing what local restaurants, stores, pizza parlors, and other services you have found to be great you can also share, “I don’t know if you are a person of Christian faith, but if you are looking for a church I invite you to join me at my church.”
- When Our Savior is having an event that is ideal for inviting someone, like our Advent Lessons and Carols worship, or a fellowship event, or the Feed My Starving Children mobile pack event, consider who you might intentionally invite to join you.
- If your child is attending Vacation Bible School or another ministry event or program that would be beneficial or fun for one of their friends why not intentionally invite the child and parents to join your child in attending?
In 2019 the Congregation Council will be focusing on how Our Savior’s congregation can become a more invitational congregation. I hope you will consider how you might also become more intentionally invitational in this new year and at the very least welcome the newcomers in your community.