By Michael C. Mack
How do you get members to invite people to their groups? Here are five specific principles you can use to help the people in your group or class, even the shyest ones, extend invitations:
1. The leader must go first! Don’t go to your group with the ideas below until you have personally done these things yourself. As a leader, you are an example, a model, for those entrusted to you (1 Peter 5:3).
2. Don’t do anything else until you’ve spent time with God. Every strategy you use, every word you say, everything you do must flow out of your relationship with God. Be like Jesus, who often withdrew to out-of-the-way places to spend time with his heavenly Father (Luke 5:16) and did nothing on his own, but only what the Father showed him to do (John 5:19; 7:16; 8:28). Remember that God is already working in people’s lives and hearts, so partner with him (John 6:44). When you spend time with God, he will pour into you everything you need and overflow out of you into the lives of others (John 15:1-17).
3. Lead with the same love, tenderness, and compassion as Jesus (Philippians 2:1, 2). How do you see other people as you go through your day? How do you respond to people who attend church services or other events? When Jesus saw crowds of people, he responded with compassion. He saw them as harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). Paul encouraged us to be “like-minded, having the same love” (Philippians 2:2). NOTE: If you’ve taken these first three steps, the next two will come naturally.
4. Leverage weekend services and other church events. Instead of sitting with your usual friends and family members in your usual seats, make yourself available for God to use you to reach out to people who are like sheep without a shepherd. Prayerfully look for new people or people sitting by themselves and ask if you can sit next to them. Look for opportunities to talk and get to know one another and possibly invite them to your group. Trust that God will lead you to the right people and that he is already working in their lives. You may be amazed at how he works in and through you as his ambassador.
5. Leverage “ordinary” days. When you are regularly abiding in Christ, he will overflow out of you into the people who are around you during your “ordinary” days. He’ll make your days extraordinary in ways you can’t imagine, if you let him. Ask God whom he wants to love and care for through you. Ask him to give you opportunities to invite people with whom you interact (people he has put on your path) to your small group. Keep your eyes open for how God is working and keep a compassionate heart for those harassed and helpless people who surround you each day. God will do abundantly more than you can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within you (Ephesians 3:20)!