In the middle of making my son’s lunch, my phone chimed with a message that stopped me in my tracks.
“Hi Katie! I’ve followed you on Instagram for a while and would love to learn more about God’s Word. Would you want to meet up sometime and do a Bible study together?”
I am not sure why this text surprised me so much. First, I was humbled and honored. Covered in Spaghetti O’s and comforting a crying toddler, I felt ill-equipped to teach the Bible at that moment. Secondly, I was taken aback by the boldness of this sweet message from a stranger.
In the midst of emerging from the pandemic, I sometimes feel that I have lost the art of “reaching out” and making the first move. What was once a regular habit is now drowned out by a toddler schedule, a work schedule, church commitments, and sheer exhaustion. This encouraging text from a new friend woke me up from my social slumber and reminded me of the beauty of an invitation.
A recent Barna study found that 56% of Christians describe their faith life as “private.” This statistic means that many Christians do not have a Christian community to link arms with through the peaks and valleys of our lives. How do we flip this statistic and re-establish gospel-centered friendships? As Christians, we can wield the skill of invitation to introduce others to the love of Christ. We can make the first move to love others because Jesus first loved us.
What keeps us from making the first move?
Are you terrified to make the first move in friendship? You are not alone. The fear of man creeps into our minds to fill us with doubts. We fear rejection. We fear not knowing enough about the Bible. We fear our lives aren’t clean enough or put together enough. We are scared to be seen. These fears keep our faith lives behind closed doors, exactly where we are left most vulnerable to sin.
What does the Bible say about these fears? The narrative of Scripture reminds us that God is our comfort and strength in fear (Isaiah 51:12). He promises to exchange our worries for His perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). Even when we face rejection, even when they don’t text us back, even when we are uninvited, God’s love for us remains steady and true.
We also hesitate to extend an invitation because we are waiting for an invitation of our own. When we are invited, our value is affirmed. We feel wanted, called upon, and loved. Friend, we do not need to wait on an invitation from others to define our worth. Jesus secured our value when He died on the cross, rose to glory, and called us sons and daughters of God. We can extend invitations because we have been so graciously invited into God’s family.
Why you can make the first move
First John 4:18–19 paints a fascinating picture of why we can make the first move. The verse reads, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” In this verse, the word “drives” is also “casts” in Koine Greek—the same word that is used to describe casting a fishing net. This word also describes Peter and Andrew’s fishing in Mark 1:16, right before Jesus turned their entire life upside down and made them fishers of men. How beautiful is it that we can cast out fear in our lives and instead pull in the abundant love of Christ? In this same way, we can cast out our fear of man and find strength to share His love with those around us.
How to invite others into gospel-community
Who is someone you admire? Who is someone who may need some encouragement? Who have you been wanting to invite to church? A simple conversation can change the course of your faith life, or even open the door to a friend’s salvation. The invitation doesn’t have to be formal. The activity doesn’t have to be elaborate. What matters most is the intentionality behind better seeing and knowing those around us so that they may better see and know Jesus. The fear may be temporary, but the reward is eternal.
Additional Resources for creating community: