I visited a local restaurant at the invitation of a friend in ministry. He sent me a text and invited me to join him for what he promised to be a great lunch – both food quality and service – at a place he’d discovered. I was intrigued and said yes.
The experience did not disappoint!
I would not have known about this restaurant if my friend had not invited me to join him there. I had not heard of this restaurant, nor did I know anyone who had eaten there. Now, it is one of my favorite Mexican restaurants. I’ll be there this week on Cinco de Mayo!
In a recent survey by Lifeway Research, an old truth about Bible study groups emerged once again: the number one reason people visit a Bible study group is because of an invitation. It’s just that simple.
Friends trust friends, like I trusted my friend not to steer me wrong when he said he’d found a great new Mexican food restaurant. If I’d seen an advertisement for the restaurant, I probably would have passed on it. If a person I know has an experience at a place like this, I value what they say. Word of mouth is important to many of us, and word of mouth causes us to try things we might not normally do without an endorsement.
The research by Lifeway Research has discovered that 47% of people who attend a Bible study group do so because someone invited them. As you can see in the chart to the right, the invitation of a group member or the leader of a group led 47% of people to attend.
Compared to the other ways people become aware of Bible study groups, the power of a personal invitation should not be underestimated. People may discover a group because the church advertises it or has a ministry fair that raises awareness of the types of groups it offers. However, if you want people to visit groups, the best way to get them there is through the invitation of group members and/or the group’s leader.
Informing group leaders and group members of their important role in helping people make the leap to group life is something every church should do. As you raise awareness of the impact of a personal invitation, encourage group members to invite potential new group members to participate in these parts of group life:
- The group’s weekly Bible study. Groups that actively invite new people to join them for Bible study always have extra chairs, extra study materials, people wear name tags, and there is a sense of expectancy that new people will be present any time the group meets.
- The group’s fun and fellowship events. Juan C. Ortiz once proclaimed, “People who are opposed to the gospel are not opposed to ice cream.” That’s true! If you want people to connect to your Bible study group, some of them will be hesitant. But if you invite them to a night of bowling, a Saturday afternoon movie, a round of golf, or other fun social events, chances are they’ll say yes. Sometimes people become part of a group before they officially become a member of the group.
- The group’s service to members of the community. A percentage of people join groups because of what they can give to others, so don’t forget to invite people who are not connected to your Bible study group to include non-members when the group goes out into the community to serve. For some people, that is the on-ramp they need into group life.