*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

‘Fear prevents churchgoers from inviting friends’

30 January 2015

CHRISTIAN RESEARCH

A "CULTURE of fear" is preventing many churchgoers from inviting friends or relatives to services, a co-founder of the Back to Church Sunday campaign, Michael Harvey, says.

Worshippers are frightened that an approach could lead to rejection, a lost friendship, or a damaged relationship, Mr Harvey says. He is the business consultant who, in 2004, helped launch the campaign, which has since expanded into the Season of Invitation.

The survey group Christian Research found that 52 per cent of 1153 members of its Resonate panel showed "a deep-seated reluctance or resistance" to inviting people to church.

Disclosing early findings last week at Durham University, in a presentation, "Developing a Culture of Invitation", Mr Harvey said: "Tellingly, although the question invited people to suggest what their church could do to help them invite people, most comments cited critical reasons why they would not invite anyone to their church.

"What we have discovered so far is that sublimated fears, perhaps related to previous rejections, are projected on to the church, with would-be inviters seeing it as unattractive, not 'fit for purpose' and unwelcoming".

Two themes emerge from the research: the anxiety felt by Christians at the thought of rejection by friends if they invited them to church; and the number of Christians who do not recognise the Gospel imperative to "Go then and make disciples of all the nations" (Matthew 28.19).

Mr Harvey said that they were not prepared to invite "until their fellow congregational members and church were perfect. . . Perfectionism is riven through the Church, and this cannot be right. The Bible says where two or three are gathered in my name, I will be present. It does not say where two or three are gathered in my name, doing it perfectly well, I will be present. The Church is never going to be perfect. . .

"The respondents imply that they are waiting for the perfect moment . . . to invite. . . The name of the game is safety, and not the risk of faith.

"Unless we start to address that visceral fear, we can do as many initiatives as we like and people will still be afraid."

He concluded: "I have found that more than two in every three people have someone in mind to invite. We need to better support the inviter."

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

 

Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available

 

Intercultural Church for a Multicultural World

28 May 2024

A Church Times/Church House Publishing webinar

Tickets are FREE

 

Church Times/Modern Church:

A Political Faith?

Monday 3 June 2024

This panel will explore where Christians have come to in terms of political power and ask, where should we go next?

Online tickets available

 

Church Times/Modern Church:

Participating in Democracy

Monday 10 June 2024

This panel will explore the power of voting, and power beyond voting.

Online tickets available

 

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)