The Unchurched Next Door

When is the last time you invited someone to church?

When is the last time you shared the Gospel?

If the only people that showed up to church this Sunday were people you personally invited the last 6 months—would anyone be there?

These are the type of questions I am asking of myself and my church as  I just finished reading “The Unchurched Next Door” by Thomas Rainer.

This is a  pretty easy read and I recommend everyone to read it to get a little encouragement, along with some understanding and perspective.  You can buy it here.

A big recurring theme throughout the book is “If you invite them they will come.” That is if you invite people to church they will come. Rainer and his team interviewed over 300 people that were unchurched. They asked each of them If a friend or family member were to invite you to church would you go? 31% said they would be very likely to go. 51% said somewhat likely and only 18% said not likely at all.

Then what is the problem? Why is it that week after week in many churches, there are few new faces? It is simple; Christians are not inviting their friends and families to church. Take a look at what unchurched people are saying.

“Eric is a trip. We will be talking about the chargers or the Padres, and before you know it, he’s telling me something about his church or God. I really respect him, He doesn’t beat me over the head with his beliefs, but he isn’t shy to talk to me about them. Most of the church people I know act like  they are ashamed of what they believe.” – Peter W

“You know, the two ministers that talked to me were nice enough but, I mean, like that’s their job. But I’d like to get into a conversation with a church person that’s a normal person like me. Why is it that regular church members never talk about religious stuff?”– Harland G.

“I see several of my neighbors leave for church on Sunday Morning. I am usually on the porch reading the paper, or sometimes I mow my lawn. Every time I see them leave, I feel a little catch in my throat. I mean, I know I should be doing something religious, but I just haven’t attended church most of my life … I know these neighbors who go to church. We talk about a lot of stuff. But I never heard them say anything about their church, God, or anything religious. Why is that? If church matters so much to them why don’t they ever say anything about it?” – Elmer Y

“Mike and Jenny and I make more money than any of us ever dreamed. But we’ve talked about how the money hasn’t really made us happier. I know that they go to church regularly, so I sometimes hint to see if they’ll say anything about it. One time we got into this real serious discussion about important things in life. I decided just to ask them outright if church was important to them. You should have seen how red their faces turned….I just can’t understand it. I think I’m really searching for something, but no one seems to want to talk to me.”  – Sharon W.

“I probably would attend church if someone invited me, and the closer the friend the more likely I would attend.”–John E.

These are real things that real people said. People wanting and searching and wondering why God’s people are silent.

Is it really simple as a conversation? Does all it take is a simple invite? From the data Rainer and his team collected the answer seems to be yes. From my own experience, I will say I have invited several(not enough) people to church throughout my life. I also have not invited others (too many). Something I noticed is that it is far more likely for someone whom I invite to come than someone that wasn’t invited.

This week call your friend, call that family member and simply say “ Hey I was wondering if you would like to join me this Sunday at church.”  you might be surprised at what happens.

Other insights from the book.

There is much more information, stories and encouragement found in “The UnChurched Next door” and perhaps one day I will write more about it. However, I believe the above 700 words faithfully capture the heartbeat of that 250-page book.