October 20, 2010

Don't Invite People to Your Church!

Of course, you should invite people to your church, but sometimes you should invite them somewhere else first. Church can be very intimidating for many people, especially if they either don't have a church background, or they've had bad experiences in church.

The idea of "going to church" can bring up all sorts of anxieties: How am I supposed to dress? Will people condemn me? Will I look foolish because I don't know where to go or what to do? Is this just an excuse for them to preach at me and try to make me feel bad? Are they just after my money? Will those scary flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz attack me? (Okay, that one might be a stretch, but the point is that people do get quite apprehensive about church.)

If you're planning an outreach event for unchurched or de-churched people, you may want to consider holding it on "neutral" ground, like a local auditorium. People understand what's expected of them in this environment, so it removes a lot of barriers.

If you go this route, be sure you're promotional material accurately presents what will happen. If you're promising a fun event, you better deliver. Also, don't sandbag people with the gospel. At a church event, people should reasonably expect a certain amount of "religious" content. That's not the case at a public show at a theater. You don't want people to believe the event was just a sham to get to preach at them. In general, promote the event so people are aware that there will be some spiritual content, and be sensitive about how it is presented.

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