It’s Time to Reignite the Power of the Invite

Some confusing realities are emerging in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. If your church is like most, you have some folks that have completely disengaged, some who are reluctantly engaged, and then a crew that are gung-ho and ready to go. It’s difficult to know how to lead and what to do in such a confusing time.

What do we know for sure? The distributed church is a powerful thing. Some of the greatest expansions of Gospel impact have come when there was both persecution and the scattering of the followers of Jesus. And it’s happening right now.

But this isn’t an obstacle – it’s an opportunity!

Some key questions are rising to the surface for every church contending for the faith in these difficult times. How are you connecting with your church family while you are distributed, and how are you keeping them on mission with you and Jesus?

Remember: Your church is likely 2 to 3 times your average pre-COVID attendance, so there is a lot of connecting to do!

The time is now to make those connections and to be crystal clear about the actions they can take while they are an “army distributed.”

Here’s a simple strategy that you can’t miss. It’s time to re-ignite the power of invite. Yes, invite. In the old days (like 12 months ago), it was common to encourage your people to “invest and invite” – to invest in relationships with the lost and invite them to church, or small group, etc. But what do you do when you aren’t having church, or some people won’t come to church, and most things we do are virtual?

You get back to the basics, and one of the basic strategies of great churches is to lean into the basic power of an invitation.

Jesus was the greatest example of this. But think about it, he didn’t do a lot of inviting to “church.” He invited the disciples to follow him. He invited himself over to Zacchaeus’ house. He invited the woman at the well to forget her accusers, drink living water, and tell the whole town what had happened!

So during this distributed time, let’s teach our people to get back to the basics of invitation. Invitation to a friendship. Invitation to a round of golf. Invitation to the back porch (socially distanced, of course!) Invitation to a watch party. Invitation to a local outreach, or serving event.

What if you reversed your thinking and planned opportunities during the COVID crisis just for this very purpose. What if invite was the primary, not the secondary purpose? What if the ministry event or outreach was expressly designed for invitation, and the impact of the event was a bonus?

Ask your team some simple questions:

  • What would people do with a friend these days?
  • What would the ONE be interested in learning about or contributing to right now?
  • What’s a need we can meet in our community that everyone can get behind?

Next, leverage the ministry strategy like crazy with your church family. Teach and re-teach principles like The Relational Reach Zone, and the fact that they are a missionary to that reach zone – right now more than ever. They each should be praying for their ONE(s) and are potentially more connected than ever. 

Give them practical means to make the invitations work. Give them a digital invite they can forward to their friends. Send invite cards to their homes so they can give them to friends. Get creative and the ideas will flow.

Tyler McKenzie and Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY have started hundreds of neighborhood watch parties during the pandemic and they are in the process of turning these watch parties into small groups. He is equipping people and the power of invitation is working.

Remember: This isn’t an obstacle – it’s an opportunity!

At Salty Church in Ormond Beach, FL, Pastor Robbie O’Brien recently asked people to write the name of their ONE on a giant 8-foot tall number 1. This giant 1 will be displayed on the stage in the auditorium as a reminder for people to reach out to their ONE during the Christmas season. To take it a step further, Pastor Robbie is asking for people to invite their ONE to join them in adopting a family in need during the Christmas season. He is empowering his people to engage with their ONE in a missional way that leads to an invite to their Christmas Eve service. He is giving the 99 an easy way to engage their ONE!

This isn’t an obstacle – it’s an opportunity!

Invitations, to most people, are a big deal. Invitations say, “I care.” Invitations say, “You matter.” Invitations say, “Get to know me.” Invitations say, “Let’s do this together.” Invitations say, “I trust you.” Invitations say, “I believe in you.” Invitations can say, “I love you.”

But invitations take courage and initiative. My mom is one of the best inviters I know. I’m always amazed at her courage to put her arm around someone and ask them be involved in a key initiative, or to give, or to show up…you name it. And rarely does the invite get turned down or go unrewarded. The invited almost always gets more from the invitation than the invitation offered at first. There is a multiplying effect to invitation!

It’s time to get back to the power of the invitation.

Right now.

Don’t delay. You don’t have to wait for the Sunday service to be what it used to be or to re-open.

In some of your churches, that means “re-igniting” invitation. In others, the opportunity is right before you.

This simple effort could put many of your connected and disconnected church family on mission and in relationship with the ONE who is searching for answers only Jesus can give.

We are praying for you this Christmas season as you reach and pastor those that God has entrusted to you in your community!

Bart Rendel

About Bart Rendel

Bart was an executive leader at Crossroads Christian Church in Lexington, KY and Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV for over eighteen years. Bart’s passion for serving churches comes from his upbringing as a pastor’s kids where he learned about the intentionality of reaching and growing people in Christ from his mother and father. His conviction runs deep. Bart and his family remain connected to Central Christian. He is married to Catherine with two children and finds the occasional time to play a round of golf or take in a Kentucky Wildcats game. He has been helping churches and leaders around the country increase their Kingdom Impact since 2004.

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