How to Invite Someone to Church

invite someone to church

It can be awkward inviting someone to church. We have fears about the relationship changing. What if they think we’re weird, or worse think we’re just friends with them so we can invite them to church?

Yet the reason you attend a church is, somewhere along the way, someone decided to take a risk, to take a chance and invite you. They knew that everything would change if you heard about Jesus, if you saw life-changing community unfold before you and thought, “I have to invite this person to my church.”

But how do you know if it is time to take that risk? How do you do it?

First, how do you know if you should invite someone?

There are clues to listen to when you talk to someone. Andy Stanley calls these “the not cues.” When you hear a person say something like, “Things are not going well.” Or, “I’m not prepared for…” Or, “I am not from here, we just moved to the area.”

When you hear any of these, you know it is worth the risk. Often the person who says these things is searching for something. They may not think it is Jesus, but it is.

Another way is to know what your church is preaching on and finding someone who would benefit from that. Maybe your church is doing a series on marriage, and you have a friend who is struggling in their marriage. Invite them. It might be a series on apologetics, and you have a friend who loves to argue about religion or has questions about who Jesus is and why Christianity is true. Invite them.

Once you decide to take the risk, and hopefully you do, the next question is how. That is an awkward moment. I remember this past Christmas inviting a friend to church, and when they didn’t come I thought, “Great, now it’s going to be weird.” Usually it isn’t. I saw them a week later, and it was fine. Life moved on, so don’t fear. I’ll ask them again.

You can call, text, email, share a Facebook event page or talk to them. Hand them an invite card. Take them out to lunch afterward to answer questions they have or simply to hang out with them. Be sure when you bring them to introduce them to people. Especially your pastor; he’ll love to meet your friend.

Let me end with this.

You never know when a simple invite can change a life. Hopefully your life has changed because of attending your church. This is a chance to change someone’s life and eternity, to help them see the life found only in Jesus.

Guest Post: Leading Well for the Long Haul by Larry Osborne

leadership

Everybody wants to leave a legacy. But the reality is we can’t control the impact or the length of our legacy. We’re prophets to our own generation (Acts 13:36) who serve God, play our role and are gone.

That said, how we live and lead does have an impact on our endurance. Our perspective, the way we love our people, our dependability and our sense of security all directly affect our ability to lead and serve effectively for the long haul.

1. Maintain Perspective 

Don’t take yourself too seriously. We’re just a mist that’s here today, gone tomorrow (James 4:14). When our work is done, God will say, “Next!” and the kingdom will go on quite well without us.

I tell pastors I’m mentoring to simply do your best, then take a nap. Because at the end of the day, all we can do is prepare the horse for battle. Ultimately, the victory or defeat belongs to the Lord (Proverbs 21:30-31).

2. Love Your People

Solomon said that a throne or leadership position is made safe and secure by two things: love and faithfulness (Proverbs 20:28). These two traits are essential to a lasting leadership run.

The first trait, love, is simply treating those we lead with a 1 Corinthians 13 attitude. This means responding to them with patience and kindness, not being self-seeking or keeping a record of wrongs. Treating the people we lead with this kind of agape love is directly tied to Jesus continuing to show up. When the church at Ephesus lost the agape love that it had at first, all of its passion, hard work and endurance came to naught. Jesus said he would stop showing up if they didn’t repent and go back to loving one another.

3. Be Dependable

The second trait Solomon extols is faithfulness. We call it dependability today. It means keeping our promises and fulfilling our responsibilities, being someone people can count on.

When we say God is faithful, we mean he keeps his promises. We can count on him. He won’t let us down. A leader who keeps his promises and consistently fulfills his responsibilities is the kind of leader people will gladly follow for the long-term.

4. Develop a Thick Skin

Servant leadership is a great idea until people begin to treat us like a servant. But that’s exactly the kind of leadership we’ve been called to emulate. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. He said the way to the top was through taking on the role of a servant and the way to the very top was to take on the role of a slave (Matthew 20:25-28).

Leaders who are easily hurt, offended or need oodles of affirmation don’t usually last very long. Their insecurity betrays them. But those who develop a sense of security in Christ respond differently. They learn that it’s a glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11) and that forgiving as we’ve been forgiven isn’t a cliché—it’s a command.

As Sam Chand pointed out in his excellent book, Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth, our leadership is closely tied to our relational pain threshold. Those with thicker skin can keep moving on with God’s greater glory in front of them and the cross behind them. Those with thin skin have to stop and lick their wounds, lash back or go into hiding.

Keep these four vital things in mind as you consider how you’re running the ministry marathon. They’ll help make sure you don’t run out of gas or hit the wall before the race is over.

If your hope is to lead well for the long term, consider joining me at one of our upcoming Sticky Teams conferences. In addition to being a main speaker, I’ll be hosting a special pre-conference session: Leadership For The Long Haul.

I welcome any pastor or ministry leader who is serious about leading well to join us. Learn more about our upcoming Sticky Teams conferences in Lancaster, PA in April and Charlotte, NC in May.

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9 Posts Every Leader Should Read

leader

Here are 9 posts I came across this week that challenged my thinking or helped me as a leader, husband and father. I hope they help you too:

  1. Five Things that are a Total Waste of Time in Leadership by Carey Nieuwhof
  2. The Senior Pastor Checklist by Brian Jones
  3. Some Leaders Finish (Very) Well by Dan Reiland
  4. Are your Values Adding Value? by Mac Lake
  5. 1 Simple Trick to Strengthen Your Marriage by Jackie Bledsoe
  6. 10 Things Pastors Will Think about as they Preach this Weekend by Chuck Lawless
  7. 6 Ways Ministry Spouses get Hurt by Thom Rainer
  8. How to be a Prolific Writer by Daniel Darling
  9. 10 Year Study Reveals What Great Leaders Know and Do by Ron Carucci

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The 10 Most Read Leadership & Marriage Posts of the Last Month

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In case you missed them, here are the top 10 posts on leadership & marriage from the last month:

  1. The Beginning of The End
  2. How You Know You are Being Divisive (And Sinning)
  3. 5 Systems Every Church Needs
  4. How do I Get my Husband to Lead at Home?
  5. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  6. How to Build a Team
  7. 10 Books Every Christian Leader Should Read
  8. How to be a Team in Marriage
  9. 18 Things Every Husband Should Know about His Wife
  10. 10 Ways to Know if You’re Putting Your Kids Before Your Spouse

How to Make Your Next Sermon Great

sermon

When it comes to anything in life, whether it is marriage, parenting, leadership, or work, someone pays the price.

In marriage you can either pay the price at the beginning, working through all the junk you brought into your marriage; or you can pay it later when you are unhappy and married or divorced.

As a single you can pay the price to stay pure and wait until you get married to have sex. Or you can pay the price after you get married as you work through what it meant to give your body away before you got married. Or your spouse will have to deal with that thought.

The same is true for preaching.

Either the pastor pays the price in preparation, studying, praying, planning, reading, and listening to God; or his church pays the price when they have to listen to him stand up there completely unprepared, unsure of what his big idea is, as he wanders through his sermon aimlessly like the nation of Israel did on their way to the Promised Land.

Too many pastors make their church pay the price.

I was talking with a few pastors the other day who told me, “It’s Wednesday, I’ve got a title.” If all you have on Wednesday is a title, you are not paying the price for your sermon.

Paying the price means you plan a preaching calendar, you think through where you are going as a church. You study, you pray through the text asking God to reveal to you what it is about, what your church needs to hear. You read commentaries and other books, you look into the context to better communicate the text.

Preaching every week is easily the biggest weight I carry and the biggest joy I experience.

On Saturday night I lie in bed thinking through my talk and the text for Sunday. At this point in my preparation I almost have the text I’m preaching on memorized and have thought through the ins and outs. I am now thinking more about who will be there, how I will communicate it. I begin praying for those I think of and those whom I don’t know, those who are coming to Revolution as a last ditch effort on God. This is the weight of preaching. If you do not feel this, I don’t think you should preach. Why? When you stand up to preach you are literally reaching into Hell and pulling people who are on the path to Hell (Matthew 7:13 – 14). I realize that is a paraphrase, but that is the spiritual battle of preaching. That is what’s at stake.

Sunday night I lie awake worrying if I said everything I should’ve said. Did God want me to say something else? Was I clear? I pray for those who made decisions, whether to get baptized, start following Jesus, or any number of next steps we talk through on a Sunday. I pray for the spiritual protection of those who made decisions. I know that night will be a very difficult night as Satan and his angels will be going to work on those individuals.

Pastors, do you pray for those who are coming and for those who make decisions? This is the price of preaching. This is the price of pastoring.

If you are not willing to pay it, then do something else. Lives are at stake. Souls are at stake. Marriages are at stake. Families are at stake. Eternities are at stake.

Pay the price.

Patience & Leadership Go Hand in Hand

leadership, patience

If you are anything like me, you are not a patient person.

Patience is hard.

I always hear people joke, don’t pray for patience.

Why?

We want things now. We are an instant culture. We want fast food. We want to post pictures instantly. It’s even called Instagram.

Patience is hard when it comes to leadership as well, not only because of the reasons just mentioned and the way we are wired and how our culture operates but because of how long things take in leadership.

Let me explain.

Leaders are future oriented people. One of the things that separates leaders from followers is the ability of leaders to see a desired future and move people towards it. Because of this, by the time things become a reality, leaders have lived with them for months, sometimes years.

When a church launches a new initiative, ministry, program, a building campaign, buys land or hires a new staff member, the leaders have anticipated this moment for months or years.

Patience is hard. And crucial.

For leaders, because change feels like an eternity to them, it is easy to forget how whiplashed our followers can feel when a change happens. For a leader, they have read books, prayed, talked to mentors and other leaders, listened, and waited for months to launch something. When their followers give pushback, they think the problem is with the followers (and it may be), but often they are not giving their followers the same time to process the change as they had to think about the change.

If you are in a spot as a leader who is about to make a change or launch something, here are some ways to handle it:

  1. Be patient. Yes, you may need to wait a little longer. The time may not be right, the funds may not be there, the momentum may not be in your corner. You may need to have a little more patience.
  2. Give people time. If you took weeks or months to research and process this decision, give your followers at least some time to sit with it. Let them ask questions. Just because someone has questions or gives pushback does not mean they are being divisive or are not on board. They are processing.
  3. Be honest about the loss, not just the excitement of the future. When discussing a change, talk about the loss. With every change there are gains and losses. Leaders see the gains, followers see the losses. Leader, look at the losses and talk about them, let your followers know you hear them, but help them see the gains.
  4. Be excited and decisive. At some point the time for patience and waiting is over, and it is time to be decisive and move forward. When is that time? It depends on the situation, but you are the leader, so you’ll know.

Seasons in Life, Leadership & Church

leadership

I grew up in a farming community, so everyone was very aware of the seasons and what those seasons meant for life. Certain things happened during certain times of the year. You planted, watered, prepped the dirt and harvested plants at certain times. If you did it at the wrong time (too early or too late), you could harm the crops and miss what could be.

Life, leadership and church are the same. There are times when things are high (harvesting the crops) and times when you are prepping the dirt (getting ready) or pulling out weeds, and it feels like nothing is happening.

Then, like a farm, you start over.

When you start a church (or a new chapter in life), you are clearing the field, getting the seed ready, tilling the ground. Things like building a team, building in that team, getting the word out, working through logistics and schedules to get a church off the ground. This is hard work. There is no shortcut through this, although I meet plenty of church planters who want to skip this. It’s easy to see why; it is hard. Long hours, you see very little fruit because you are planting, you are weeding, you are watering. Some younger leaders can relate to this season as they work under a pastor, waiting for the time to plant a church. Many guys see this as “biding their time” but need to see it as the time of pruning, the Spirit of God working in and on them for what lies ahead. This season is mostly behind the scenes. The work that is being done is often being done in hearts, lives and in meetings as people work to shore up systems and how things are done.

In our lives this is trying to get a career off the ground, trying to finish school, pay your dues at a company, working to get your marriage off the ground, trying to figure out kids, how that all works as you parent. This is the beginning of things. This is hard work. In this season most dreams, most goals stop because of the difficulties.

Don’t miss this: this is not a wasted season. If you don’t do this hard work, preparing, studying, reading, getting ready, you can’t actually plant a crop. You can’t start a business, you are unprepared to start a family. We too often rush into things we are not ready for.

Then you water, you clear the weeds away, making sure the crop gets sunlight, plenty of fertilizer and water.

This is the time that you start to see life. The first person to become a follower of Jesus, the first baptism, first marriage saved, you launch something in your church. This is exciting, this is what you hoped for. For many guys, though, this can be depressing because it is slow. You will see plants come up that just die. You will see weeds that overtake plants. Or plants that don’t grow to what they should be. Leaders you poured into who walk away, marriages you counseled only to have them quit. Moments of betrayal and feeling stabbed in the back, feelings of God abandoning you. At this point you will probably hear of how God is working in the church down the street. Don’t despair; they are in a different season.

You are in your season, they are in their season.

Your marriage starts having small wins, you begin to see eye to eye, you’re connecting again. You get pregnant after a long, difficult season of infertility. Your work is beginning to get noticed, you get some accolades, a promotion, get accepted for that master’s program.

Like a church, you can start to get jealous at this point. Someone else seems to have an easier time. Their child isn’t as difficult, their marriage (while yours is great) is better.

The next season is the harvest. Plants are growing, you are reaping rewards from your hard work. In this season you have unprecedented momentum. You can do little wrong. Every idea you try seems to work. Your sermons click, community groups multiply, money is great, staff is getting along. There is a buzz about what God is doing in your church. You might even be getting noticed in your city, people are talking. This is the season you hear about on twitter, blogs and at conferences.

This is where you can look back with some accomplishment on a project that has taken awhile. Maybe you had a lot of work you had to do in your marriage, you sell a business, a business is finally humming and hitting on all cylinders, you graduate, and all the work you put into your schooling is done. It is a season of accomplishment.

This is the season everyone wants to live in.

The reality, though, is that this season comes to an end, and then you start over. What often keeps pushing you through this cycle is the reality that the harvest season does come.

So how long do these seasons last? It depends. Some leaders, churches, careers and marriages get stuck in an early season and never reap any benefits. Some after going through the great feelings of the harvest and seeing things start over simply throw up their hands and quit. Most people seem to stay stuck in an early season and wonder why life is so hard.

The important thing for a leader is to know what season they are in personally and where their church is so they can lead effectively and know how their church is doing. People need to be reminded that hard seasons do not last forever, but they also need to be reminded to enjoy the seasons of growth and momentum.

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How to Figure out God’s Will

God's Will

Every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else.

This truth has had an enormous impact on how I live my life, how I make decisions, how we do our calendar as a family and how I lead Revolution Church.

But how do you know what to say yes and no to? That’s the most common question I get from someone who has read my book or has heard me say this in a talk. Honestly, it’s different for each person.

Too often we focus on what we want to do in the next day, week or month and then make a decision based on that. Let me frame it a different way for you: What kind of person do you want to become in the next month? In the next half year? One year from now, who do you want to be?

Will this involve doing something? Yes, but it changes the context.

For example, if a year from now you want to be closer to Jesus than you are today, a stronger disciple, then you will make the choice to say yes to community, yes to serving in your church, yes to reading your Bible, and yes to inviting people to church. That will then determine what you say no to.

Often we hope that something will happen. We will simply become kinder, more generous, thinner or smarter without putting in the work or even be willing to make a choice towards something. If you want to become a person who is known for ________, then you will have to make decisions for that to happen. A wish and a hope are not enough.

Take your marriage or another relationship. What if six months from now that relationship was stronger? It would mean that what you are doing right now would have to change. You would need to make more of an effort, you would have to say yes to giving time and energy to that relationship and saying no to something else (ie. golfing, sleeping in, working too late).

We often think we have no power over where our life goes, what our marriage becomes, the relationship we have with God or how kind we are. Yet we do. Every day we make decisions that get our life somewhere.

Here’s the problem: we never sit down to ask, Where do I want to end up?

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How do You Handle Success?

success

I remember talking to a mentor once, and she asked, “Josh, do you enjoy success?”

Honestly, the question stopped me in my tracks, and I didn’t say anything for awhile.

The truth is, as a leader I am trained to fix things. I am wired to find things that are not working and make them start working or stop them. To find something that is going well and make it great.

As soon as something is fixed or working well, we go looking for the next thing to fix. Who has time to sit back and enjoy success?

But let me ask you, “How do you handle success? Do you enjoy success?”

Have you thought about that as a church leader?

Many times in life we wallow in things that aren’t working. This didn’t go our way. We didn’t get a raise or a promotion. We prayed for this, and instead that happened. It is easy to become pessimistic.

It is easy to fix things. It makes us feel active and important, like we are needed.

Most leaders do not know how to enjoy something. We are always so focused on future things and projects that we fail to see what is right in front of us.

If something just succeeded for you, take a moment and enjoy it. You worked hard for that to happen. You set goals, made sacrifices and it worked. Gather your team together and enjoy it.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • What a day yesterday.
  • First the highs.
  • Revolution was simply amazing yesterday and this weekend.
  • So many people poured so much time, effort, sweat and prayers into what God did yesterday. It was incredible.
  • We had more guests than we had this past Christmas Eve, which is enormous.
  • I loved being in a smaller space.
  • Seeing people hang around talking, being able to hear the people around you singing.
  • If you weren’t there, you missed out.
  • Better be there next week.
  • It was also cool and a little strange to preach on a topic I wrote about in a book.
  • If you missed it, you can listen/watch it here.
  • If you are a pastor, you can relate to this: we as a church just walked through a really hard, pruning season and I believe are walking into a season of bearing fruit from that.
  • If you’re in the pruning season, it has a purpose and an end.
  • I drove home yesterday stunned by what God is doing and that I get to be a part of it.
  • The emails, texts and messages I’ve gotten in the last day will bring you to tears.
  • One of my favorite things as I walked around yesterday thanking people for all their hard work was having them say, “I wouldn’t be anywhere else. I’m humbled I get to play a part.”
  • Now for the low’s.
  • My Steelers.
  • Can’t believe we had Denver beat and then fumbled it away.
  • On to the off season.
  • Not sure who I’m rooting for to win the Super Bowl.
  • Probably not the Pats or the Broncos.
  • In light of John Piper turning 70, people started posting their favorite books of his last week and one that kept coming up was Future Grace: The Purifying Power of the Promises of God.
  • I’ve never read it but since it is broken up into 31 chapters I decided to try to read one each day with my bible reading.
  • So far, really enjoying it.
  • If you’ve struggled to understand God’s grace, I’d encourage you to pick it up.
  • Time to get back at it…