The Power of an Invitation

It happened as I was on my way to play a board game with friends from church. Someone in my car asked, “So, Molly, why are you going to this?”

Caught off-guard, my eyes switched back and forth between the road ahead and the rearview mirror as I tried to gauge the sincerity of the question. After quick deliberation in silence, I said, “Well, I guess the first reason would be that I was invited.” 

I haven’t been able to forget that question.

 People Respond to Invitations

Looking back over my life, I can remember making certain decisions or attending certain events simply because I received an invitation.  Someone put a new thought in my mind or showed me why something was worthy of my time. Had they not invited me, I would not have gone. 

When I was in college, a lady in her 50s walked up to me after the church service one Sunday morning and invited everyone in my car to go out to lunch with her.  That small question led to years of dear friendship, spanning the decades between us. But how did it all start? With an invitation.

Maybe you can think of a friendship or a life-impacting event that stemmed from an invitation. In the same way that those invitations shaped you, think about how your invitation may shape someone else.

As you think about how you can invite others, keep in mind the following practical suggestions:

Make ordinary invitations.

Don’t let imperfection stop you from inviting. Your house doesn’t need to be completely clean. One-off invitations are not a waste. Delight in the small invitations that are accepted!

Make reasonable invitations.

Sometimes we need to be challenged to do something hard or to obey when the Holy Spirit leads us to act beyond what we think is possible. But other times we need to simply do small things consistently.

That’s why I suggest making invitations that work for people. A busy college student may only have 15 minutes to sit down and catch up with me one week. A young mother may find the time to meet with someone while she makes a meal at home.  People are more likely to say yes if the invitation is within their capacity.

Make frequent invitations.

Invitations vary in commitment, and some seem harder to give than others.  My work in college ministry entails inviting liberally; think of the image of the sower in Matthew 13 unsparingly sowing seed on various types of soil.

I regularly invite people to Bible studies, events, church, one-on-one get-togethers, retreats, reading a book together or connecting with people in the church. I invite others to repent of sin, to follow Jesus, to know and love Him deeply and to serve Him with their lives. Hearing “no,” “maybe” or even no answer at all can become quickly discouraging, but one of my biggest motivators to keep inviting is remembering how I’ve been shaped by invitations directed towards me. 

Praise God, Jesus invites us to follow Him! May God use us to be generous inviters for His kingdom. 

Molly Peele lives in Providence, RI, where she serves as a collegiate missionary at Johnson and Wales University.