To Invite, or Not to Invite: That is the Question!
Sometimes group leaders wonder if they should invite a person into their group who is not as spiritually mature as the other members or who could potentially disrupt the good dynamic they have going. If the group has already agreed to be open, I almost always say ‘yes’. Satan is not in the habit of luring spiritually lost people into the company of Christ-followers because that’s where they can encounter God’s life-changing Presence (Matthew 18:20).
Rather, group leaders ought to cover the invitation in prayer and trust God with the outcome. We can’t control how somebody responds to an invitation to come to a group, but we can control whether or not we take the risk. Plus, when fear is the driving factor in not doing something in cases like this, it’s probably the better to choose the action that requires faith. So I counsel groups leaders to pray, choose to do the most loving thing, and trust the guiding influence of the Sovereign power of God with the outcome.
In cultivating environments that make disciples of people at different stages in their spiritual journey, it is crucial to first respect God’s work. The truth is, God is already at work…
- Building His Church – What that looks like is the building of community. So try to respond to what He is actively doing in your church’s community life and nurture the way things are already naturally moving. Do not over-engineer or complicate the discipleship process with too many steps. Community is the soil that helps people to sink their roots in Christ so focus on planting people in the fertile ground of those who are already growing together in Christ. What is already happening in and through your church that is effectively reaching people for Christ and building up your community? Explore how you can tap into or build on that.
- Through His Word – God’s Word is living and active so as you facilitate bible study, assume that biblical truth is actively transforming those who are hearing it. Instead of explaining the truth to group participants, expose them to the truth and lean on the group’s collective wisdom to discover what the Lord is communicating to each individual heart. When seekers or new believers are a part of your group’s bible study, trust that God’s Word will speak to them.
- Drawing people closer to Himself – God loves people and He is more concerned about their spiritual journey than you ever could be so be diligent to find out how He is working in a person’s life. Then be careful not to presume or prescribe too much. After all, discipleship is not really an orderly process. Just look at the Gospels.
- Encouraging relationships – Let God bring the people to your group that He wants to. Shepherds are to protect their flock from wolves…not other sheep. If an actual shepherd were to see a lone sheep approach his flock and attempt to nudge itself into it, could you imagine him kicking it out? Of course not! He would probably think to himself: “Hot dog! I just got a new sheep. My flock just increased and I didn’t even have to work for it!” Shepherds are to protect their flocks from decreasing, not increasing. Trust God with the dynamic of your group and the meeting space to accommodate those He wants to bring.
If we look to the account of the Early Church in the book of Acts as our model, we see people in all different stages of their spiritual journey helping one another take their next steps in following Christ (Acts 2:40-47, 4:4, 5:14, 6:7, 8:4-8, 25, 9:31). In the next post, we’ll look at how group leaders can cultivate disciple-making environments that help everyone in their walk with Jesus.