Inviting a friend to join me on a trip to Lambeau Field to watch the Green Bay Packers comes naturally for me. It’s easy. No need to develop my invitational skills, or craft a creative invitation. No need to enroll in a class to learn how to engage, or learn how to invite. Why is that?
On the other hand, inviting people into a spiritual conversation or inviting them to join me in some church-centered activity can be very intimidating and awkward.
Why is that?
Three things I am learning about The Art of Invitation:
Invitation Follows Incarnation
So often, Jesus-followers feel pressured to invite someone to something. We have been so focused on church-centered activities as the way we do church. What might happen if we would invite people into relationship first? What if we would live an invitational lifestyle and got close to people before we launched into a relation-less invitation? As Doug Everts and Doug Schaupp state in their very helpful book, I Once Was Lost: “Relationships, genuine friendships are our currency.” pg. 31
Invitation Flows Naturally From Intrigue
We have agendas. Let’s lay them aside for the sake of others. What would happen if we would approach our relationship with others from a place of inquiry and intrigue? If we really took an interest in people and sought first to understand them rather than to invite them, I think our invitations would be much more natural and more readily accepted. We need to follow Jesus’ lead and become learners first. In order to do this we must learn how to ask good questions. No one listens today. Everybody loves to be listened to. And, as you listen carefully, pay attention to what your friend is curious about. These moments of curiosity can be great entry points into an invitation. Assess the point of curiosity and ask something like, “Would you be interested in exploring that a little deeper with me?”
Invitations Are Secondary to Story
So often we’re attempting to get people to attend something. Since when was attendance the focus? Giving people the opportunity to share their stories, and in the process, discover God’s redemptive STORY in theirs is a better focus, and a lot more fun too.
Here’s a few questions that might help you get the conversation started. Find a few that work for you. Reword them. Pick a couple and get comfortable using them in conversations. Everts and Schaupp list 7 “Starter Questions to Encourage Questioning” on pg. 56 in I Once Was Lost. The first two are from their list. The last three are a few that I like.
- What is your take on the whole God question? What do you think God is like?
- What is the most important thing that happened to you in the last month?
- What’s keeping you up at night?
- What are you really excited about?
- What are you learning about yourself these days?
What questions do you find are effective in getting people to open up and share their heart?
Other posts in this Series: