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World News Survey: Personal Invites Most Effective for Churches


An invitation from a family member or friend is the most effective way to get people to attend church, a new survey shows, casting doubt on several time-tested methods used by churches to attract new members.

The other approaches—from broadcast commercials to information packets left on doorknobs—are far less effective, LifeWay Research reports.

A majority of respondents (67 percent) said an invitation from a family member was either somewhat or very effective. Likewise, 63 percent said an invitation from a friend or neighbor was effective.

In contrast, just 33 percent said an invitation left on a door would be effective, while 31 percent said door-to-door visits from a church or faith community member would be effective.

Ed Stetzer, director of the Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated LifeWay Research, said the research shows people are open to invitations to church—but those invitations need to be personal.

“Unbelievers next door still need a simple, personal invitation to talk, to be in community and to church,” said Stetzer, whose researchers were commissioned to do the survey by the denomination’s North American Mission Board. “Clearly, relationships are important and work together with marketing.”

Researchers reported that the following percentages of respondents thought these other modes of invitation were effective:

  • letter in mailbox: 41 percent
  • weekly religion section of a newspaper: 40 percent
  • billboard or outdoor sign: 38 percent
  • newspaper or magazine ad: 36 percent
  • TV commercial: 34 percent
  • radio commercial: 33 percent
  • website listing or ad: 31 percent
  • e-mail message: 30 percent
  • social networking site: 30 percent

The survey, conducted in December 2008 using an online panel, included a sample of more than 150,000 respondents and had an overall margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.


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