There are two key elements to discipleship. First, we invite people into relationship with God by sharing the Gospel with them. Second, we invite people into discipleship by inviting them to engage in community. I promise you that no person has started a healthy relationship with God without someone along the way inviting them to church and into the community of the believer. There may even be people out there that you come across where the ability to invite people to church comes up naturally in conversation. I want to extend an invitation to friends and family and lots of different people because I know that if they’re not in a community of believers, they’re not being discipled.
When a good friend of mine, Daniel, invited me to the House of Prayer through simple invitation as a friend, I began to walk in the calling of God for my life as I was discipled. I came to the community and experienced the presence of God and it marked me as a college student. This was ten years ago. Each of you have the ability to be that “someone” that catalyzes discipleship and growth for others in a way that compels them into their calling. I can assure you that real discipleship will not happen unless we begin to extend invitations to those that don’t know God and have a place to worship and fellowship with other believers. That is the context in which real discipleship takes place.
We need to be bold about our invitation because it could make the difference in a person’s life between whether they go to heaven or hell. It could be the difference whether they stay right where they are or whether they grow in their Christian faith. It’s the power of a simple invitation.
I want to challenge each of you to not just be spectators when it comes to community gatherings but to actually invite people to come and to be proactive in ministering to them and discipling them. Jesus said to “Go into all the earth,” and He wasn’t just meaning full-time ministers or missionaries go into the earth. He was commanding every disciple to be a disciple-maker. One of the most basic and easiest actions for us to do as a lifestyle is to invite others to come along with us.
Each of us, myself included, have lots of relationships with and come across lots of people that don’t know Jesus. The simplest thing that we can do is invite them into a place where they can respond “yes” or “no” to the invitation. You know, for my first few semesters of college, before my friend Daniel, no one (that I can remember) had invited me to church. Think about that for a minute. Who was the last person that invited you to come to their church? Do you know? It is such a rare thing. You have the ability to be the person that extends that gift to someone.
If you commit to developing a culture of invitation, it will radically change your life. It will drastically transform your church services. Jesus came to minister to the sick and to the broken, and His desires have not changed. That’s still who He wants to touch. All that He’s asking you to do is be His mouthpiece, His hands, and His feet. He gave you the charge to go and make disciples by inviting them to the Gospel and inviting them into community. It’s a very simple process. The worst that could happen is they say, “Nah,” and then you can invite them again. I want to charge you to participate in that way where inviting people is your normal behavior, and give them the opportunity to respond to the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is longing for the opportunity to get at dry, barren hearts. Give Him that opportunity by extending a simple invitation, and believe that He will do something miraculous. When people get in a church environment, the Holy Spirit moves with conviction and they connect with other believers. It is within community that people are meant to be discipled.
How many of you would like to see fifty people get saved this year? It’s realistic. There are 52 weekly services every year. If you invite ten people per service, and one person comes and gets saved every week, it will happen. This is a realistic number. You have relationships and influence with people that your pastor or other church community members don’t know. You can be the person that stands next to them and answers their discipleship questions.
Many of us have heard stories of the supernatural occurrences where the angel comes or someone wanders into church and gets saved. However, MOST of us come because we were invited by someone who took the bold step to ask us into community. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to even go to the movies by myself! How much more is it unlikely that a person, even a person that thinks about going to church, will come without an invitation? They will come because you invited them.
If you’re reading this right now, I want for you take a moment and think of one person that you might want to invite and I want to pray with me for them:
“Lord Jesus, I ask that you would give me an opportunity to invite them to come and partake of Your presence and partake of the body of Christ. Let them come and hear the Gospel. I pray that You give me boldness and the opportunity. Let there be an ease on the interaction. I ask that they would come and that their lives would be transformed. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”