In our journey of becoming more like Jesus, we have many opportunities to say yes to what He is doing and we have many opportunities to invite others along with us. That is the core of discipleship. Acts 16:1-3 says, “Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jew and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey…”
In my life, I was invited over and over again. At the age of 11, I was asked to give a seven-minute talk to our small church. When I was a teenager my church asked me to serve as a greeter. At the age of 19, I was asked to lead a committee that would plan a year’s worth of Sunday evening worship services for all ages. Every church I attended during college and afterward invited me to lead a small group and to teach a class. At the age of 44, after having served as an elder in two different churches over a 16 year period, I was invited to serve as a full-time pastor at Providence Vineyard.
Being an introvert I rarely volunteered for things, but I would accept invitations to serve. Looking back on my life I see an important lesson: if you want to grow in your gifting you need to say yes to opportunities offered to you. Now it makes me think, where are the people around my community who are just waiting to be invited in? How do you begin to invite others into what God is doing?
Here are a few things I’ve learned about inviting others well:
Ask the Lord to highlight someone.
Someone may be needed to work the coffee ministry, substitute as a greeter, be a small group leader or serve in VBS. Whatever the task, ask the Lord to highlight a few names as you go through your church directory or phone list or as you walk around on a Sunday morning.
Observe who is already informally at work.
Without being asked to serve, who has already applied himself or herself to the ministry needed? Who just jumps in and helps clean up after a potluck? Who enjoys studying the Bible and shares meaningful thoughts in a small group? Who brings new people to church? Who likes to come early to church to visit with a variety of people? Who do you see praying with others on the church campus?
Spot who takes the initiative.
What child is the one who organizes the play for a cluster of kids? What teenager is the one who invites others to a game night? What young adult instigates a night out with friends? What family has other families over for dinner or BBQ?
Seek the richness of diversity.
Have we looked to include children, teenagers, and the various adult generations? Various ethnicities? Male and female? Working class and professionals? Is there a cultural group we are overlooking?
Check among those on the edge of the congregation.
There may be gifted people on the periphery of your congregation that would say yes if asked. Some people who normally do not volunteer on their own will do an excellent job if invited. Is there a newer person or couple in the congregation that hasn’t yet received an invitation to serve?
Like me, there are leaders around you waiting to be invited into the next step that God has for them. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the invitation of others. These are just a few ways to identify leaders. What are some other ways that you spot who to invite? Comment below —we’d love to hear about it.
Les Yoder is the senior pastor at Providence Vineyard Christian Fellowship.