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How to Get a First Time Church Visitor

Inviting Friends to ChurchThe short answer: Personal Invitation from a Trusted friend.

Charles Arn has surveyed thousands of people: (Source: 3 Questions for Charles Arn – link removed)

In your research, have you found that there’s one specific reason that visitors come to church?

The friendship factor.

We’ve asked more than 50,000 people over the last 10 years why they came to church, and between 75 and 90 percent of respondents say, “I began attending because someone invited me.”

Those friends and relatives are critical to the growth of churches. They far outweigh factors like the facilities, music, preaching, or children’s ministry—people may stay because of these things, but they come because someone they knew invited them.

I’m glad to see that there is some recent research done in the area of getting first time visitors.

If you want to know how to get your church to invite people, it starts with personal relationships with non-church goers.

In my notes about how visitors come to church, I have these stats from 1987. It is still in print from Amazon (Source:The Inviting Church, 1987 p. 44):

  • 2% by Advertisement
  • 6% by the Pastoral Invitation
  • 6% by organized evangelism campaign
  • 86% by friends or relatives

Your personal Network

Lifeway research released in 2009 indicated that most people are still open to a invitation to a church from a friend.  See: Statistics on Invitations to Church

Who can you invite to church?

How is your personal network growing?

Do you have unchurched and non-Christian friends to invite?

Check out our series on Building New Relationships to start examining your existing network of friends to invite.

How To Welcome Church Visitors

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About EvangelismCoach

Chris wants to help you increase the number of conversations that lead people towards Christ. He has studied evangelism and church growth ever since working for a Billy Graham crusade over 20 years ago, and has led countless training seminars throughout North and South America in many different denominations.


  1. Thanks for picking up that interview on Off the Agenda!

    It’s interesting to see the seemingly dramatic shift between 1987 and 2009 in those two other sources you show, though those surveys are slightly different. I would imagine that the “personal conversation” options in the Lifeway survey would be that much higher compared to the others if respondents could only pick one.

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