Christian Living

How to Invite Friends to Follow Jesus

Three Easy Ideas If the Word Evangelism Scares You

In the post Are You Reluctant to Invite Friends to Church? we looked at the New Testament church and saw that people first invited others to follow Jesus. Then they went to church.

Therefore, we shouldn’t invite people to go to church with us until after we invite them to follow Jesus. The early church was where they went afterward to grow in their newfound faith. But how can we invite friends to follow Jesus today?

Some people find it easy to invite friends to follow Jesus, but many find this a struggle. They don’t know what to say or the best way to say it. They don’t want to drive their friends away, so out of fear of doing it wrong, they do nothing.

Here are three straightforward ways to invite friends to follow Jesus:

Invite Them to a Bible Study

One way to invite friends to follow Jesus is to first invite them to a Bible study. You can do that.

But this shouldn’t be any Bible study. If you invite them to join an existing study with you and five of your Christian friends, they may think you’re ganging up on them. They may be uncomfortable with the Christian language that would normally permeate the discussion.

Instead, invite them to a Bible study with just the two of you. Or structure it as a Bible study with you and a group of unchurched friends. This could make for some robust discussions about Jesus, following him, and faith. Yet it would also be more challenging to do.

Therefore, a Bible study with just you and your friend may be the ideal solution.

But what if you think you’re not ready to lead a Bible study? What if you’re afraid they’ll ask a question you don’t know the answer to?

Yes, it may happen, but don’t worry about it. Pray for Holy Spirit insight before you meet. Trust God to give you the right words at the right time. (Consider what Jesus says in Luke 12:11-12.)

If you come up blank anyway, just say, “That’s a great question. Let me look into it, and we can discuss it next week.”

It’s also okay to say, “I’ve wondered about that, too, and I don’t know the answer.” They may respect you for your honesty.

Also, know that the question they ask may not be a concern to them but merely to divert the discussion away from something that makes them uncomfortable. This is what the Samaritan woman at the well did with Jesus (John 4:19-20).

You don’t need to have a ready answer to any question that may come up. No one could. That’s why we all need to grow in our faith. It’s a process.

For your Bible study you can pick a book in the Bible to read and discuss. The gospel of John is a great start for many people. If John doesn’t click with you, try Luke.

Alternately, you can use a Bible study guide to help you. I have several to pick from. You may want to consider That You May Know or Living Water.

Invite Them to a Book Discussion

If leading them in a Bible study is too big of a stretch for you or something they’re not interested in, you could invite them to a book discussion.

Again, this should be either just the two of you or you and a group of unchurched friends. This is an even easier way to invite friends to follow Jesus, albeit indirectly.

The book you choose could be either fiction or nonfiction. Just make sure it’s a faith-friendly read. For nonfiction you may want to consider Women of the Bible or The Friends and Foes of Jesus.

Whether you do a Bible study or a book discussion, this will last for several weeks. At the end of the study or discussion, ask what they’d like to cover next. Along the way, encouraged them to invite their friends.

The short-term goal of these should be to forge deeper relationships, with a long-term goal being to invite your friends to follow Jesus. This can either happen through your words or through your actions.

Invite Them to a Service Project

If a Bible study or book discussion makes you uncomfortable (or isn’t of interest to them), consider doing an activity together.

Tell your friend about a service project you’re involved in and ask if they’d like to go with you. This could be at your church, a parachurch organization, or a community nonprofit. Most people are open to help others.

The purpose of this shouldn’t be the overt evangelism of your friend but to serve others. Give your friend space to ask questions. Let them guide your discussions.

This will happen when they’re ready, so it might take time. As you wait, pray for them, be patient, and let God work in their lives. Some label this approach as one way to do friendship evangelism.

As you serve others with your friend, this may provide the opportunity for you to invite them to follow Jesus. Or it may be an opportunity for you to invite them to take the next step, such as a Bible study or a book discussion, as we discussed above.

Moving Forward

You may have the gift of evangelism and find it easy to invite friends to follow Jesus. Yet most of us do not and are gifted in other areas.

But inviting them to a Bible study, book discussion, or service project are all straightforward ways to engage with others and invite friends to follow Jesus.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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