The Power of Open Invitation
We have not had the problem of people avoiding our invitation, but I’ll tell you some of the things that we’ve done. We do open invitations. We’ll just say to 300 households, “We’re having a cookout on the Lord’s day at 3 o’clock. Kent will grill. Bring a chair.” We’ve been doing that for years.
Two things happen when you open invite people. First of all, they don’t feel awkward because if they’d like to come, they can always bring a friend. That solves one problem. The other problem is that they might not want to go into your house. People don’t always feel comfortable with that. But, if you’re having a cookout, just move the grill to the front yard. We found that you just have to meet people right where they are. That can be very helpful.
We found that you just have to meet people right where they are. That can be very helpful.
Remove the Barriers
When you invite everyone to something, two things happen. One, everybody feels loved. You’ll get a little private message from somebody who was recently divorced who hasn’t been invited to anything because of the fallout who can’t come, but she’s just really thankful. Or, you’ll get the message from a woman who is a recent shut-in and can’t come because she can’t walk, but she really is thankful. Now you know who to help, right?
Literally everybody feels welcome, but only about ten percent of the people come. We do live in the land of indulgence. If you needed to run out to the grocery store and get more hot dogs, it’s possible to do that. I’ve personally seen that done before.
One of the things we do a lot in the summer is host prayer walks. We will walk through the neighborhood and pray about matters. We’ll post it on the Nextdoor app: “Butterfields. Meet in the front yard at 7:30. We’ll walk Clarion Drive. If you have prayer requests, please send them.”
We’ve had neighbors wait for us on their front porches as we’re walking by to come and say, “Please pray for my sister,” “My brother’s having surgery,” or “Can I walk with you?” What we’ve always tried to do is make it easy for people to slip away or slip in. We don’t micromanage it.
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What is most lacking in this Christian world is not the need for more extroverts, but the need for more discernment.
Without trying to be somebody you're not, think about how you can be hospitable to those around you in your current season of life.