Flicking through the T.V. channels the other day I ended up watching a service from the Abundant Life church in Bradford. I’m never quite sure if I agree with everything said – but then I feel that way about my own church and only a fool would deny that they are being very successful in their work.
Anyway Paul Scanlon mentioned a survey they had taken on the streets of Bradford. The results were very challenging. They discovered (this was just a simple questioning, not a full blown survey or anything) that 90% of people said they had never been invited to church and 60% said that they would go it they were asked.
Now, even if the results are not entirely accurate they still point to two interesting things.
The vast majority of people in Britain have never been invited to church.
I think a lot of people don’t invite friends because they are a little embarrassed of what their friends will come to. I went to a meeting the other day where the question was asked about whether it matters if the music isn’t done very well in a church. Of course the answer most gave was no. This is right on the basis that God just wants us to offer what we can, it doesn’t matter to God if you are good at making music or not the important thing is that you offer it in the right way. However, people who don’t understand this (non-churched visitors perhaps) will notice if the music is badly done. We church goers understand this and I think this puts us off asking people (you can extend this to bad preachers, bad drama, bad prayers, bad worship leading, etc).
The majority of people would go to church if they were asked by a Christian friend
The survey had no connection with the ALM Bradford and so the question they were answering was an invitation to the image of church that most people have (boring, dusty, irrelevant, etc). This doesn’t answer the question of whether they would come again after being asked but simply that many would come if they were invited.
Lots to think about
There is lots to think about here but I see this as a challenge to the church. We need to take inviting visitors seriously and although it may make us feel uncomfortable we ought to start doing it.