Who doesn’t love an invitation? Just knowing that someone has gone out of their way to invite us makes us feel cared for, whether we can accept or not, and may well open up new experiences and opportunities to meet others.
With more people experiencing isolation than ever before following the pandemic and due to the rising cost of living, the Church of England’s Christmas campaign, ‘Follow The Star: The Great Invitation’, is all about reaching out to people we know to make that personal invitation to church.
While posters, leaflets and social media are all great ways to invite the parish to worship this Christmas, often the most effective invitation comes in person from a friend or neighbour. In other words, from you.
But knowing who to invite can feel a little daunting, especially if you think your invitation might not be accepted. These three top tips were shared by Rev Stephen Hance, Co-head of Church and Network Support, in the Church of England Vision and Strategy team:
‘It’s easy to think all this depends on us. But in fact, it’s God who draws people. So pray before you invite. Ask God to show you who you should invite, and how, to prepare the person to receive the invitation, and to give you a good opportunity for the conversation.
Take some moments of silence to see if God puts any thoughts into your mind about any of this. Keep praying for the person after you have spoken with them, and trust that God will be at work.
Think about how to invite this person and prepare accordingly. What service are they likely to be most interested in? Traditional or informal? If they have family, would they like an invitation to something appropriate for all of them, or is this for your friend alone? How will you begin the conversation?
Don’t stress about it or make it a big deal. Think about how you would invite this person for a coffee and then do something similar.
OK, this is an old-fashioned word, but it simply means ‘ask’, and hopefully three words beginning with the same letter are easy to remember!
The best way to ask someone is simply to ask them. “I’m planning to go to the Carols by Candlelight service at St. Anne’s. I went last year and it was beautiful. I wondered if you might like to come?” If they say yes, make arrangements. If they say no, try not to look disappointed and think about who else you could approach.’
If you’re thinking of inviting a friend to a church service at your own church or another event such as carols or a nativity service at a different church, take a look at A Church Near You to see what Christmas services are available in your area.
Some churches and church halls are opening during the week to offer a warm space, many serving hot drinks and refreshments too. Here is a handy list of warm spaces in the Diocese this winter.
For churches looking for ‘Follow the Star: The Great Invitation’ resources, visit: Advent and Christmas resources | The Church of England