My son recently celebrated his birthday with an Olympic-themed party and he couldn’t wait to hand out his invitations. Some invitations were mailed and others were hand delivered to his friends at school. He was delighted to share the good news of his party with others. We weren’t surprised that some friends said no to his invitation. Those that attended had fun playing Olympic themed games and eating his Krispy Kreme Olympic Ring cake.
Have you ever considered how we get excited about inviting people to parties, or over for dinner, or to hang out with us, but we get intimidated about inviting people to church? Can you imagine inviting someone to church with the same enthusiasm my son had when inviting people to his birthday party? The Bible provides us with some Invitation 101 tips that can help turn our invitation intimidation into enthusiasm. And Jesus Himself provides the example we can follow.
In Matthew 4:18-20 (NLT), we witness Jesus inviting Simon and Andrew to become His disciples:
18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
How did Jesus invite these two men to be his disciples? Three simple words: Come, follow me. And how did Simon Peter and Andrew respond? They left their nets at once and followed Jesus.
We see Jesus using this same, simple approach with Philip in John 1:43-44 (NLT).
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown.
Any guesses about what happens next? You might be surprised… Philip extends an invitation to Nathaniel.
45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”
46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. John 1:45-46
How did Philip invite Nathanael to meet Jesus? Five simple words… Come and see for yourself. And Nathanael came. He was skeptical. He didn’t believe anything good could come out of Nazareth. But that didn’t stop Nathanael from checking out this Jesus for himself. (Check out the rest of the story here.)
Did you know that Jesus didn’t have a 100% success rate with his personal invitations? Yep, not everyone Jesus invited to follow Him said yes. The story of the Rich Young Ruler is told in three of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Jesus invited this young man to come and follow Him after he sold his possessions and gave the profits to the poor. (Jesus used the same, simple approach: Come, follow me). How did the young man respond to Jesus’ invitation? At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Mark 10:22) Notice that Jesus was willing to invite, regardless of the response.
Jesus invited. Philip invited. The invitations were simple: Come… The invitations were presented without pressure… without a list of reasons why the invitation should be accepted… without expectation of a specific answer. Each person received a simple invitation… that’s all. Isn’t it amazing how simple inviting someone to church can be?
So… how can you apply Jesus’ Invitation 101 approach with your family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances… even strangers… in the weeks leading up to Easter? Use the same simple invitation approach that Jesus and Philip used: Come to our Good Friday Service. Come to one of our Easter services. Come and see for yourself what Jesus did for you.
Are you willing to give Invitation 101 a try? Think of two people you can invite to Easter. Pray and ask God to give you the courage to invite them. And then do some inviting!
Let’s get excited about inviting others to experience the Good News of Easter. Let’s adopt the enthusiasm my son had when inviting friends and family to his birthday party. Because once we’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good, how can we not invite others to come and see for themselves?