One of my favourite speakers is the evangelist J.John. He says, “In general, people go to church three times throughout their lifetime. Once to be christened, secondly to be married and finally the third time is for their funeral. The point being that on two of the occasions that they do go, they have to be carried in!”
“And the lord said unto the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.' Luke 14:23
The scripture above is very clear and there is no doubt that it is also a command. Jesus is once again using the word ‘Go’ as He did in Matthew 16: 15 “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.”
So what should we do when we follow the command of Jesus but get the reply “You won’t get me inside a church!”? I believe that the answer is to be more creative and more intentional in our approach towards those that don’t know Jesus as Lord. That means being deliberate about a number of things in order to be successful in this very important area.
Most churches offer meetings that are less formal, particularly for specific groups, such as The Business Men’s Fellowship, Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, and the Women’s and Men’s Aglow organisations. These are really great for taking a two step approach towards giving a person a chance to hear the Gospel. By two steps I mean inviting a person to a less churchy type of function before them visiting church.
I have been involved in this type of evangelism for many years now and know from experience that inviting someone to a breakfast, dinner or lunch is much easier that asking them to come to a church meeting. I have seen many lives changed through them.
In this kind of meeting, the Gospel is usually shared through the life experience of someone’s testimony. It is not like being preached at, plus they will have had an opportunity to chat to other Christians. I often speak at such functions as well as organising them.
Key Point: Being intentional prayed up. planned and rehearsed will increase your effectiveness at inviting people to church
From experience, I believe that there are three important areas to focus on so that when we invite a person to an event, similar to the ones I have mentioned, that the person invited says ‘Yes’. These areas are:
· Decide who you are going to invite
· Pray before you invite them
· Rehearse how you are going to invite them
Being definite: Experience has shown that being intentional and focused on a number of specific people proves to be more fruitful than randomly inviting many to come along. I spent many years in sales and recruitment where we had saying – “If you throw enough mud at the wall some will eventually stick.” It’s true, but we have to remember how many people get put off by this type of approach. In evangelism training, I teach the vital importance of always keeping the door open for another opportunity. It is also absolutely essential to pray and rehearse your approach.
I have worked with people who witness effortlessly on the streets. It is their gifting to be able to stop someone and within a minute or two they are explaining the Gospel followed by a prayer of repentance. It truly is a gift, because it is evident in the results that follow the way they share with others.
With this in mind, make a list of people that you want to invite to an event. Think and pray about it before you actually speak to them.
Praying: One of my mentors in evangelism is one of the most gifted people in this area, a lady called Marilyn Harry. She always states emphatically that prayer and evangelism go hand in hand. She is absolutely right.
A Fervent prayer about the people on your list will make a difference. Ask God to prepare their hearts to break down barriers as well as creating opportunities to give you uninterrupted time to speak to them - this will yield results. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5: 16. I believe that scripture and as Paul said in Timothy 2: 4. “God desires that all men should be saved.”Do we need any more encouragement? When you invite a person along to an event, or share Jesus, you are doing what God desires. What a thrill!
Rehearsing: This point is often overlooked. Some people ask nervously, others ask in a way that is jumbled up and hard to understand, some come across as boring, some talk too much and talk the person out of coming along!
This is why it is necessary to practice what you are going to say and importantly how you are going to say it. This comes down to being intentional once again. Practicing with the intention of improving is the mother of learning.
I often practice rehearsing my messages. My pastor of many years would say that it takes at least twelve hours to prepare a message; this includes (d ,) praying and waiting on God, writing out the notes, practicing it and continuing to pray. Very often I preach the message to the wall in my office as if I am preaching to a thousand people. It makes a difference!
If possible, pray just before you invite and during the time you are speaking. I will often walk up to a person praying quietly under my breath. “Lord, help me here, open the door.” I will also be thinking a prayer like this while I am talking. If you don’t do so already, have a go.
Here are some things you could do:
· Write down a few notes so that you know what you are going to say
· Practice it on your own
· Ask a friend to listen to what you are going to say
· You could even record yourself. You may be surprised at how you sound.
· Go and do it knowing you are intentionally prayed up and rehearsed!