People who come to Mass infrequently tend to “PACE” themselves by going to church on Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Christmas, and Easter (P-A-C-E). So how can we reach out to our friends, family members, and those we work with who are not practicing their faith? The answer is surprisingly simple.
According to Lifeway Research, 51% of unchurched Americans say the most effective way to get them to visit church would be through a personal invitation from someone they know. Other methods were not as effective: only 21% said an invitation from someone knocking on the door would get them to visit a church; postcards only slightly more effective (23%), on par with TV commercials. Facebook ads were the least effective—only 18% said they would visit a church after viewing a Facebook ad.
Easter is a beautiful time to invite someone to Mass, but the idea of asking someone to come to church with us does not come easy. Here are six “be-attitudes” for inviting someone to Mass, which may help overcome some of that discomfort.
1. Be prayerful.
Before you invite your friend or family member back to Mass, spend time in prayer for that person and her or his family. Pray about the wounds that might be causing him or her to stay away. Reflect upon how much this person means to you and ask God to give you the right words and the right time to extend the invitation.
2. Be natural.
You don’t have to schedule a separate meeting to have this conversation. Keep it authentic and casual. If you see this person often—for example, if you go on daily walks together or meet for coffee every week—look for a window in the conversation to bring up the subject of coming back to Mass.
3. Be compassionate.
Share with this person how much you love him or her. Explain that his or her presence in your life has been a gift to you. If you know the reason for this person’s absence, acknowledge that reason. Many people who are not practicing their faith do not consider themselves to be without faith.
4. Be honest.
Rather than listing all of the reasons why this person should come back to Mass, talk about how much you get out of going to Mass. Talk about how important your faith and Jesus are to you. For example, if you know that this person is spiritual, acknowledge this and bridge the conversation from their faith to Mass. You could say something like: “My faith has held me together during the most important and difficult times of my life. You might find that same kind of support. Would you like to come to Mass with me?”
5. Be specific.
People who have been away from Mass for some time may not find it easy to start going back. Invite your friend to come with you and your family. State when you are going, which parish you are going to, and what time you are going. Include an opportunity to socialize afterward, and offer a ride if necessary. A simple example of an invitation would be as follows: “Our family always looks forward to Easter Sunday. I remember going as a child and loving the music and the sense of hope all around me. Our family would love for you to come with us. We are going to the 10:30 Mass at St. John Parish on Easter Sunday; you are welcome to come with us and for lunch afterwards. If you need a ride, let me know!”
6. Be respectful.
If the person is not ready to come to Mass or shuts down the conversation, don’t take it personally. Maybe he or she is not ready. If that happens, keep the door open by saying something like, “Thank you for talking with me about this. If you ever want to talk about your faith, I am always here for you.”
Have you found a good way to invite someone to Mass? If so, please share it with me in the comments; I would love to hear from you!