Sometime back I read this article which contained the chart above. This research merely affirmed what I have seen and what I believe to be true. Advertising and glitzy programs cost a lot of money, consume a lot of time and energy, and often take the lion's share of attention in church life but have a marginal effect in connecting unchurched people to the church. The most effective tool at sharing the gospel and exposing an unchurched person to the fellowship of gospel-changed people continues to be the personal invitation. Building relationships costs the least amount in a line-item budget but has the biggest effect. Building relationships does demand time, prayer, desire, courage, and patience-- we are often more willing to shell out a few more dollars on a program or billboard than expend energy on any of those other things.
It has been reported that between 75%-90% of people who walk through the doors of a church auditorium for the first time because a friend or relative invited them. I believe that the Holy Spirit has to overcome a person's depravity and give them "ears to hear" but our faithfulness to invite these people often put them in a position to use those Spirit-awakened ears to hear. We cannot be complacent or lazy concerning people in the community. We must be active "bridge builders", active invitors, and active at cultivating conversation about the gospel. This isn't easy. I'll be the first to confess I need to be more proactive than reactive (just waiting for people to come to me) so let's get on with our mission to bear the image of God before men. It can start with a simple invitation to a church worship service where the gospel is preached.