Ok, let’s look at the “I” in C.L.O.S.I.N.G. the Back Door which stands for Invite People to Lunch. Andy Stanley says, “we are a culture craving relationship.” Oscar Thompson said, “The most important word in the English language, apart from proper nouns, is the word relationship.” Inviting someone to lunch is a great way to foster a relationship and relationships are the keys to assimilation. See How to Build Relationships, Part 1 and How to Build Relationships, Part 2 for practical relationship-building tips.
As a response to the first post in this series, Jason left the following comment about focusing on inviting people to lunch:
Thanks for the outline, and I look forward to your further explanation of each of the points. However, I want to go ahead and give a hearty “Amen” to the “Invite people to lunch” point. I am a Sunday School Director of a church here in Louisville and I encourage my teachers to try to take any visitors to lunch that day. I also try to make a practice of this myself as much as possible. I have seen a tremendous increase in the number of times that the back door closes, and folks end up joining our church.
Jason’s testimony of the effectiveness of this approach is powerful. People respond well to someone who shows a genuine interest in them. In How to Build Relationship, Part 2, I wrote the following paragraph concerning inviting people to lunch:
This can be a bit tricky because you don’t want to push too far and make the guest(s) feel uncomfortable. But, if you sense that it is appropriate to do so, invite the guest(s) for a burger after the service. You might say something like, “My family’s heading across the street for a burger after the service. I know it’s late notice, but we would love for you to join us if you have time to do so.” Be sure you’re offering to eat somewhere affordable and conveniently located near the church. Remember, many are “starving” for relationships.
Be creative. Invent ways to invite. Share your suggestions here. According to Flavil R. Yeakly, Jr., newcomers who have an average of 7 friends in the church after six months, stay with the church. On the other hand, newcomers who have only 2 friends in the church after six months, almost always leave the church. Remember….
People are not merely looking for a friendly church;
they are looking to make friends at church!
For more details about CLOSING the Back Door see the entire series: