The art of inviting

7 Feb

With 2013 well and truly upon us it’s worth thinking about how we will invite our friends and family to the many events in the upcoming year.

Effective invitations.
Sometimes people turn up to church because they really want to find out what Christianity is all about. Sometimes people come along because an event was advertised in a leaflet drop. Most often people come along because someone they know invited them. It’s true in business, it’s true with church—the best advertisement is word of mouth. If someone you know and trust asks you along to something, there is a reasonably good chance that you will say yes, even if it’s just out of courtesy.

John’s gospel gives us several interesting case studies on ‘invitations’. In John 1 we read how Andrew was following John the Baptist but then follows Jesus once John identifies him as ‘The Lamb of God’. Andrew spends the day with Jesus and then goes off and finds his brother Simon Peter and tells him, “We’ve found the messiah” and brings him to Jesus. The next day Philip who was from the same town as Andrew and Peter, also begins to follow Jesus, and Philip goes and finds Nathaniel and says to him: “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  Nathaniel said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

This tells us that ultimately we are inviting people to find out about a person, to enter into a relationship with a person, not join a club or an organization. And this person has a claim on people’s lives; Jesus is the Messiah, the king. But also, we can welcome people’s scepticism and doubts. Nathaniel was rather disapproving of Jesus—“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” But Philip simply responds, “Come and see”; find out for yourself! So too when we invite people, we don’t need to worry if they are sceptical or even disapproving. We ought to issue the challenge that they come along, and find out for themselves who Jesus really is.

We can’t invite people to meet Jesus in the flesh, but we can invite them to hear about him and learn about who he is and what he has done. A great example is Cornelius in Acts 10. He invites Peter, but also invites all his friend and relatives to hear Peter.

There are lots of things we can invite people to attend in the next year. We can invite people to come to church for our special evangelistic services.   We can invite people to the evangelistic dinners or events.  Have a close read of the SNAC each week and work out what events you can utilise with your friends and family.

But whatever you do – don’t die wondering!  Make the invitation this week. 

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