Ponder this: Inviting others to church

Your inviting others to church, though well-intended, may make them less likely to ever attend. Invitations to join religious activities are common on campus and usually say “you’re always welcome to join me  for ____”. There’s two problems with this message.

First, the message ignores the context of the individual and the situation. When the same message is used on everyone at anytime, it seems ingenuine and becomes ineffective. A heartfelt message should be tailored to the individual, keeping in mind why the person does not currently attend the service. Instead of asking anyone nearby if they want to attend, be intentional about who, when and how to ask.

The second problem is what Social Judgement Theory calls the boomerang effect. The theory says people have spectrums ranging from latitude of acceptance to latitude of rejection in which messages are placed. The message “Leonard Oakland is secretly an alien” would hopefully fall into your latitude of rejection, while the message “post-finals Netflix binging is great” would likely fall into your latitude of acceptance.

The person you invite to attend church likely views church attendance in their latitude of rejection, which is why they are not attending (with the exception of not attending because of a logistical reason, such as lack of a ride). When a message, such as your invite, fails to persuade and falls in an individuals’s latitude of rejection, it can reinforce their previous position. If you invite someone to church, and are not persuasive, you may make it less likely they will ever go.

A better persuasive approach is to persuade individuals to something that is closer to their original position in hopes of moving their position closer to latitude of acceptance. Instead of inviting to church, you can invite them to a hall bible study in a coffee shop. Over time, you can invite them to more religious activities and eventually church, instead of starting with church. Be intentional about invitations to religious activities, taking into account a person’s perspective when crafting the message. Failure to do so can not only make the message sound ingenuine, but make the person less likely to attend a religious activity.

Madison Garner 


Contact Madison Garner at mgarner16@my.whitworth.edu