On my campus, when we talk about ministry, we talk about everyone getting an invitation to know who Jesus is. We don't want anyone to get left out, because it's happened to all of us. Our friends go to a party or out to dinner and they don't bother to invite us because they didn't think of us or they didn't think it was something we would be interested in. And how do we feel about it? Really disappointed.
Perhaps you are about to lead a Bible study or small group discussion in your chapter and you want to make sure everyone gets an invitation. You don't want anyone to feel left out, right? You can give a chapter announcement, send out an email or Facebook message, or hang a poster on the front door. These aren't bad options and it doesn't hurt to do something like this. It certainly ensures that everyone gets an equal invite, but how effective are announcements at chapter meetings, really?
Quality of an Invitation
When was the last time you went to the party of someone you don't really know because an invite was posted to their entire friend's list on Facebook? If your friends weren't going, then you probably didn't show up by yourself. However, if your long-lost friend from high school calls and personally invites you to their 21st, perhaps you consider the invitation. We all feel honored when someone bothers to give us a personal invitation.
I know what you are thinking… "Yeah, but this is not an invitation to a party. It is an invitation to Bible study and that just makes it more awkward." I hear what you are saying, but I think we make it more awkward than it needs to be. We invite people to join us at a party because we enjoy their company and we think they will have fun. We invite people to check out Jesus in Bible study or in small group discussions for the same reason. When you invite someone to small group, you are giving them an opportunity to receive something good. It is natural to be somewhat disappointed if someone says "no", but if we choose to not take it personally and respect someone's choice, then our friends will not feel awkward. They will feel honored that you thought of them.
Three Tips to Consider
So how do you spread the word about your small group Bible study? Start by personally inviting everyone in your chapter. Maybe you have a really big chapter, or you’re thinking of someone that you don't think would ever be interested in attending, so inviting everyone seems daunting. If you’re wondering where to begin, here are some tips:
- Give everyone a chance to say "no" for themselves; don’t write anyone off. You never know how God is at work in that person's life.
- Don't try to invite the whole chapter in one day. Start with the people closest to you. Enlist the help of others in your small group to also give personal invitations.
- Initiate spiritual conversations at meals or in casual settings and extend an invitation.
Finally, if there are some people you just never see, make a point to send them a text or track them down. If you commit to making sure everyone gets a personal invitation, I guarantee you will see God at work in unexpected places!