For many churches, the numbers are down across the board—giving, online service attendance, and participation.

But don’t let that get you down.

We’re still in the middle of a remarkable opportunity to reach people online. And while getting people to invite others to church is already a challenge, encouraging your church to invite people to an online service seems even trickier.

To give your church the tips and tools to invite someone to an online service, try these practical ideas.

#1 – Make it easy

The easier you make something, the more likely people are to do it.

Providing your church with templates for inviting people to watch church online not only takes away the “I don’t know how” grounds, but helps them feel more confident and equipped when they extend an invitation.

Create graphics (with messages such as “you’re invited” or “join me online”) for people to download and post on social media or attach to text messages. Write example text messages and social media captions for people, too. Since people are so unique, invitations will be too, so make fun, formal, and informal graphics and message options.

Put all of this on one page on your website (yourchurch.com/invite is an easy link to remember). 

#2 – Equip people

It’s not enough to tell people to invite someone to online service; you have to show them how.

Don’t assume that everyone knows what to do. Record a video or write an email that explains why it’s so important to connect people with the church, even if it’s virtually right now. Tell your congregation where to find pre-written and ready-made tools that make it easier (see above).

And teach them what to do—how to share posts and how to listen for the right time to extend an invitation (these “clues” from Andy Stanley are helpful).

#3 – Reach out

Few methods are more effective than a direct ask.

When you reach out to church members to find out how they’re doing or chat casually, ask them if they’ll commit to inviting someone to the church’s next online service.

Send a quick text message to a few of the most active, engaged people in your congregation an hour before service starts and ask them to post an invitation on their social media, share a specific post from the church’s social media, or text someone inviting them to watch.

And when they do invite people to watch an online service, reach out again and thank them. Consider adding a “Who invited you?” question to your digital connection card so you can do this.

#4 – Create a guest-friendly online service

Imagine this: you invite a new friend to have dinner with your extended family, but your family barely acknowledges them and tells inside jokes the entire time. Would you want to invite that friend back to an environment where they weren’t made to feel welcome?

People are more likely to invite others to watch an online service that won’t make them feel like a complete outsider.

Welcome guests who are watching your livestream or video service the same way you would in an in-person service. Take a little time to explain what certain parts of the service mean. This helps create a culture of guest-friendliness online.

Hospitality looks different in this season. But with a little direction and a lot of intentionally, you can witness the power of a personal invitation and watch your church grow in the process—yes, even online.

Take the Next Step

Follow-up is one of the most important systems in a church. To help make sure both online and in-person guests don't fall through the cracks, download our free Follow-Up Checklist. It will help you evaluate the key pieces of your follow-up process, ask the right who, what, and how questions, and establish clarity in ownership, effectiveness, and more.