Americans Open to Outreach From Churches

Americans Open to Outreach From Churches

Despite worries among evangelicals that Americans are set against attending church, most people would attend if invited in the right manner.

A recent study by LifeWay Research found that 67 percent of Americans say a personal invitation from a family member would be effective in getting them to visit a church. A personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would effectively reach 63 percent.

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) are willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a family member, and 56 percent are willing to receive such information from a friend or neighbor.

“The primary lesson North American believers should learn from this research is that many of your unchurched friends are ready for an invitation to conversation,” said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research. “Unbelievers next door still need a simple, personal invitation to talk, to be in community and to church. Clearly, relationships are important and work together with marketing.”

The survey, conducted by LifeWay Research, may be the largest survey ever conducted on Americans’ receptivity to different methods of church invitations. LifeWay Research, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources, surveyed more than 15,000 adults in December 2008 using a random, demographically balanced, stratified sample of Americans.

Out of 13 approaches tested, personal invitations from family members or friends is the only method that a majority of Americans say would effectively draw them to church. Visiting door-to-door received the least favorable reception.

Less than a quarter of Americans (24 percent) are willing to receive information from a local congregation through a visit to their door. Still, 31 percent say a visit to their door would be effective in getting them or others to visit a church.

But once people receive information from a community of faith, there are very few follow-up steps they are willing to take. The only scenario to which a majority of Americans would respond positively is receiving a postcard from church advertising upcoming talks on topics that matter to them. Fifty-two percent agree that they might visit after receiving such a postcard.

The least appealing follow-up option is making a phone call. If Americans see an ad with interesting information about matters of faith and an 800 number to request more information, less than 20 percent say they would call.

Only 1 percent would watch a preacher or worship service on television, and 1 percent reports they would explore the Website of a local church. Less than 1 percent would ask questions in an anonymous chat room or online community.

Church advertising efforts take a back seat to personal invitations from family and friends. Americans say they are somewhat willing or very willing to receive information about church via newspaper ads (46 percent), radio ads (41 percent) and television ads (40 percent). Similar reaction is seen toward receiving information from a local congregation through outdoor advertising (46 percent) and letters mailed to the home (45 percent).

Up to a third are somewhat willing and just more than 10 percent are very willing to receive information from those forms of advertising. Less than 10 percent, however, think such ads would be very effective in getting them or others to visit a church.

Southern Baptist invitations are more effective for 11 percent of Americans, and Roman Catholic invitations are more effective for 15 percent.

A more comprehensive report of this study can be found at or

This article “LifeWay Research Survey: Americans Open to Outreach from Churches” was excerpted from: REUTERS online news service. on March 2009

The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study and research purposes.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”