By Greg Aitkens
Jesus gives the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 – Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
These words from Jesus are some of the last words of instruction that Jesus gave His disciples, before His unfair and ignominious death at Calvary. We are called to tell others the Good News about Christ. The message today involves becoming an inviter, encouraging others into a life in Christ.
The Cursillo movement has an excellent phrase which might help us in “making disciples”. It goes: “Make a friend, be a friend, and bring a friend to Christ.”
In my own life, I think less about being an “evangelist” or a “proselytizer” of my particular brand of church. Instead, I’m focusing more on becoming an inviter. I’ve learned that I cannot convert anyone else to a life in Christ; that is a work of God. I can, however, do my best to begin a conversation which may lead others to want to become followers of Christ.
I can simply invite others into a life in Christ.
Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And He healed every kind of disease and illness. When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like a sheep without a Shepherd. He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into the fields.” Matthew 9:36-38
In my view, we have to be able to share why we believe before we can effectively invite others into His life. Why do we believe? Common answers may include Salvation, Sanctification, Redemption, and the full knowledge of His profound love for us. We could point to the many ways He has protected and guided us throughout our lives. We could even point to miracles which have occurred. In my own life, I can certainly remember the many ways He has poured out His healing graces upon me. These were not accidents, or luck, or good fortune, these were his sovereign graces at work.
Why don’t we invite others into the lives in Christ we’ve come to enjoy? Here are a few I’ve experienced:
- Don’t know what to say
- Others will not accept my invitation, and I don’t want to be rejected
- I make assumptions about others’ readiness or are looking for the perfect moment to initiate the conversation.
- I’ve got my own salvation, and others can figure this out on their own.
- Inviting is just not my gift. I don’t have the personality. I’m not a salesman.
When we do invite, what might we encounter with others? We may get push back, resistance or even arguments. Some will say they are just not interested. Some will squirm with discomfort in any conversation about God, church or religion. Others will say they are too busy for God. A few have said, “this Jesus stuff is fine for you—but it’s not for me.” Some will say we Christians are a bunch of hypocrites and just look at all those Christian leaders doing evil in the world.
How do we engage others in a conversation about our Lord? A few suggestions:
- Pray about the person before approaching them
- Call, text, email or send a note
- Arrange a coffee or meal together
- Ask questions about their own spiritual experiences, if any
- Be ready to LISTEN intently
- Share your own conversion story
What do we actually say to open a conversation? A few suggestions:
- How are you doing?
- Are you a church person?
- Were you raised in a religious/spiritual home?
- Please tell me about your background with religion.
- Please tell me about the Blessings in your life.
Suggestions for being an inviter:
- True care and concern for others
- Compassion and Mercy for other’s situations
- Courage to ask tough questions
- Meet others where they are spiritually
- Ask questions without “telling” others what to do
- Exhibit patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control
- Willingness to be their Wingman as they begin the journey
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to have the courage to boldly speak your name to the people who we know, and the people we will meet. Help us to become Your ambassadors and inviters in the world!