The Power of a personal invitation!

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The Future of the church

I believe that personal inviting is where the future of the Lord's church lies. As a method of contacting and influencing seekers, it is Number 1. The institute for American Church Growth asked over 10,000 church-goers this question: What was responsible for your coming to Christ and this church?

2% I had a special need

3% I just walked in

6% I liked the minister

1% I visited here

5% I liked the Sunday school

1/2% I attended a gospel meeting

3% I liked the programs

79% A friend or relative invited me

In this article I wish to examine this most powerful tool of evangelism the personal invitation. I believe there are three different categories of inviting. Let's begin by looking at the first.

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Those Who Know You
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Every Christian knows 200 people who are either friends, family, neighbors or work-mates. These are the people you spend time with. They are within your circle of influence. I have personally surveyed three churches and found that 95% of conversions came from this category. As you begin to invite these, work at developing new relationships so your reservoir of 200 is never depleted. Children, sports, community service, activities, etc., are great for meeting new people. I have known several Christians who deliberately involved themselves in charities, coaching, and hobby clubs for the specific purpose of meeting new people for the gospel's sake. When we look to the Bible, we find the following conversions fall into this category.


Have you noticed that several of the apostles were related by blood. Andrew leads Peter to Christ (John 1:40,41). Philip brings Nathaniel (John 1:43-46).


Paul converted Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:1-3; 25-26). When you examine the account, the initial contact was work, both being tentmakers by trade.

Friends and Neighbors:

The woman at the well in John 4:28-30; 39-42 brought almost the whole city out to meet Jesus after he intrigued her. Evidently she had quite a circle of influence!

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Opportunity In Crossing Paths

This second category involves inviting gas station attendants, waitresses, checkout personnel, bank tellers, etc. Have you ever thought of how many people you cross paths with every day during the normal course of your daily business? I estimate an average of 10 a day. Multiply that by the membership of your local church and the number is staggering! You never really get to know these individuals but, for a brief moment, you do have something in common. Take advantage of that common ground and invite them. The Bible contains the following examples of conversions as a result of crossing paths.

Meeting In The Market:

When Jesus met the woman at the well, he was primarily thirsty. He stopped for refreshments just as we do at fast food outlets. In John 4:3-7; 19-20 Jesus first asks his waitress for a drink, then proceeds to strike up a spiritual conversation.


We spend much time in transit. Paul in Acts 27:1,2; 21-24 was aboard public transportation. But Paul took advantage of the situation and 276 persons feared Jehovah! (I've always wondered how many of them actually became Christians.)


We are constantly being solicited by salesmen. The lame man in Acts 3:3-8 was soliciting when he begged. He tried to sell his situation to Peter. Peter politely said no to the beggar then made him a believer through the miracle of healing him. I have known non-Christian salesmen who came selling life insurance but ended up buying eternal life insurance from a Christian. I have known a Christian saleslady who came selling kitchen spices. She really hit the jackpot when she sold something that truly spices up your life the gospel. Whenever someone tries to sell me something, I always turn the tables on them. This is the only time you do unto others as they do unto you ! Better yet, with the salesperson you do unto others before they do unto you.

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Creating Opportunity: Cold turkey

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It Scares Me!

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If cold turkey inviting was a:

  1. vegetable it would be...
  2. disease it would be...
  3. movie monster it would be...
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This third category includes door-to-door, random phoning, and face-to-face inviting in the malls and parks. A good Biblical example of this is found in Acts 16:13-15 where Paul went to a riverside, where he supposed there would be a place of prayer. He didn't always wait for God to place opportunities in his lap. Here Paul aggressively created an opportunity to teach. We must do the same!

Jesus taught an entire parable on this kind of inviting. (He knew we would need the encouragement.) The message of the parable of dinner, Luke 14:16-24, is quite blunt.

  1. Who to invite: The outcasts of society. If we invite the outcasts, we will surely invite the honorable.
  2. Where to invite: In the streets and lanes inside the city, and along the highways and the hedges outside the city.
  3. How to invite: COMPEL them to come in. That is a pretty strong word, but that is just how Jesus intended it. Let it sink deep into our minds!

Personal Inviting Summary Chart



Success Ratio

Our perception of how hard it is

How we think they view us when we invite them

Key to success


Limited (200)




Personal Conduct

Path Crossings






Cold turkey






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Inviting and Social Custom

Some may object to inviting because it is contrary to social custom. That may be true, but notice that Jesus broke several customs of the day when he invited the woman at the well. See John 4:7-9,27. She was a Samaritan. Drinking from the same vessel as a Samaritan was interpreted as violating the Levitical laws of impurity. She was a woman and therefore Jesus, being regarded as a teacher, shouldn't have even talked to her. Instructing her in the law was even worse! It may not be considered socially acceptable to invite people in the shopping malls. Yes, they may turn an eye at you, but do it anyway!

Take a look at Luke 10:4 where Jesus tells the 70 to give no greeting as you go. BIBLE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS says that these greetings involved numerous bows, kisses, and gestures. They were repeated as many as ten times, consuming much time and making great delay. Jesus clearly had no regard for this social custom for obvious reasons. Social custom gives way to the great urgency of the message. Jesus' treatment of social custom gives us new insight into what He meant when He commanded us to compel them to come in, that My house may be filled. It may not be considered socially acceptable to walk up Main Street and invite people. So what! Christ did it!

I am reminded of a story of two booths at a fair that were beside each other. One was spreading the gospel and Jesus Christ and the other was propagating communism and Karl Marx. The Christians were having no success and were amazed at how effective the communists were at getting people to listen to their message and take literature. They noted three reasons for their success:

  1. Boldness
  2. Confidence
  3. They clearly spoke a message.

Surely, the gospel is more socially acceptable than communism!

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Final Thoughts

The Bible tells us to compel the lost. Unfortunately, the challenge of each evangelist is to compel the saved. I want you to meditate upon Col. 4:2-6. This is a central text on personal inviting. Here Paul asked for prayers on his behalf so that God would open doors in reaching the lost and he would enable him to speak the message clearly. He then gives these instructions in personal inviting: conduct yourselves with wisdom towards outsiders [non-Christians] making the most of the opportunity. . . .Let your speech be seasoned with salt so that you may know how you should respond to each person. Set a daily goal that you will invite just one person a day. Pray to god that he will open that door for you. Invite someone. If they are remotely interested, always ask for their phone number. Then follow them up. The Lord will cause the growth!

Steve Rudd

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