“Who’s out there bringing people in?”


“So, what is our church doing in evangelism?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, who’s out there bringing people in?”

“I’m looking at one of our top recruiters right now,” I said.

This little exchange took place a couple of weeks ago before a men’s gathering started.  A concerned church member was looking thoughtfully at his plate of scrambled eggs and wanted to know what we were doing to bring in new members.

I don’t think he liked my answer very much.

Look, our church makes use of all the marketing and technological tools that exist to invite people into our ministry.  Naturally, we could do some things better.  Our website is new and easy-to-use, but it’s not nearly as flashy as some I’ve seen.  We’ve got a Facebook presence too, but not a lot of people (beyond yours truly) are interested in updating it.

But we’re doing everything that a church can do.  We even place ads in the local newspaper, even though studies show that those ads do a better job of making members happy than of bringing new people to the church.

What needs to be said, however, is that evangelism – not quite the same thing as new member recruitment, but you get the idea – is the responsibility of every member.  While much has changed about the church in the last generation, one fact has not – overwhelmingly, people visit a church for the first time because they’ve been invited to do so. 

Study after study confirms this.

Surprised?  You shouldn’t be.  Christian faith since the beginning was spread by word of mouth.  It was spread by people who were excited about their new lives, by the transformation they experienced, by the sudden new freedom of life and conscience.

Our best recruiters are the hundreds of people who sit in the pews each week. Clearly they’ve found something that’s meaningful to them.  Now they need to pass the word along.

Yesterday there were 21 people in the new member class which was held immediately after the last morning service.  And because the church is located in a sunny climate, two of them are going to be affiliate members, which means they’re retaining their membership at a church up north (in the frozen wasteland of New York State, I believe).  But still, 19 new members is an exciting day in the life of any church.

Before the class started, I asked the new members to introduce themselves and tell a little about how they came to the church.  (This exercise is useful for lots of reasons, but it tends to give priceless information to the Membership Committee members who attend.)

As it turned out, every single person in the class knew someone in the church.  Our top recruiters are doing their job.  I’m so glad.

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.


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