Do you think it is possible to have a friend of another faith with you at church every single Sunday? Yes, you read that right—every single Sunday. It sounds audacious, but it has been done. Diana Hoelscher of the audio CD “The Missionary Next Door” did just that thing. She describes how when she was a young girl, her dad gathered the family together and proposed that they as a family could have a friend at church every week. And from that moment on, they did.
If you haven’t heard her Audio CD, add it to your Christmas list.
So why is that so outrageous for most of us? Because we are making it too hard.
Now, I feel the need to add this disclaimer: there is obviously no right or wrong way to invite someone to church. My opinion may not apply to every situation, but with the Spirit you can discern that.
Often times there are two mistakes we make:
1. Our invitations are too complicated or dramatic.
2. We keep postponing until our friendship has reached some undefined level.
I’d like to propose two solutions.
Keep Your Invitations Short and Sweet
Don’t psych yourself out over inviting someone to church. This is not an invitation to be baptized.
How would you feel if friends invited you to their baby’s Catholic baptism? Or if your Christian friend invited you to a Saturday night sermon?
We don’t need to make our invitations to church complicated and dramatic.
Here are some examples of a short and sweet invitation to church:
Friend: “Oh, are you a Mormon?”
You: “Yeah, I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Friend: “Oh okay! My friend in high school was, too.”
You: “Really? Well, I’d love to have you come with me this week! Church is at 11 and I can save you a seat.”
“Hey Mikayla, the children at our church are putting on the service next Sunday with songs about Jesus. I thought your little girls would enjoy it. Would you like to come with us?”
You may notice that these examples did not require a missionary lesson or conversion story. (Although both of those things are great when the time is right.)
Keep it simple. Help them get in the chapel doors and the Spirit will follow.
Invite Everyone Regardless of Your Level of Friendship
Clayton Christensen writes in his book The Power of Everyday Missionaries, “. . .building a friendship is not a prerequisite to inviting people to learn about the gospel” (p. 17). Phew! What a relief, because without this knowledge, we can spend an eternity building up to the big moment when we finally invite our friend to church.
Instead, make invitations to church a part of your relationship from the beginning.
Let’s say you are meeting someone for the first time. You might say, “By the way do you have a church you attend around here?” Whether they respond yes or no, you can then offer, “Well, I’d love to have you come with me anytime. We meet at 11 on Sundays.”
(Don’t be deterred if they say they have a church. That doesn’t always mean they are active, and it doesn’t mean they aren’t curious about other churches. If they are active, they’ll let you know, and that’s great! No harm done.)
Maybe you’ve been caught in the trap of waiting for the “right moment.” In this case, try, “Hey, I was thinking about you and your family at church last Sunday, and thought that we’d love to have you come and sit by us sometime. Are you around this week?”
With God’s help and a little practice, we too might be able to have a friend at church with us each Sunday. What a blessing to us and our families to share in the Spirit of God with friends of all faiths.
So get out there and quit making it too hard! People like you, and God is with you.