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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Give an Invitation

By Cheryle M. Touchton

The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

And he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. Matthew 4:19

Just this week, I walked into the campground bathroom and found two teenagers curled up on a long bench clicking away on their phones.

“I’m guessing you don’t have Wi-Fi at your campsite,” I said. They shook their heads without looking up. I knew they were hoping I’d stop talking but they had no idea how good my news was going to be.

“Where are you from?” I asked. They were polite and finally put their cell phones down. Hunter and Alexis were half-sisters on a camping trip with their mutual father. They lived with their mothers in different cities. None of their parents knew Jesus but Alexis went to church with her friends and Taylor went with her cousins. They were actively involved in youth groups, believed in Jesus, and understood they were sinners in need of forgiveness. Neither girl had a personal relationship with Jesus. They had not asked for forgiveness of sin, confessed belief in Jesus, or asked Jesus to be their Savior. I gave the Gospel scriptures just in case their education had been lacking, which it had not.

“Can I lead you in a prayer asking Jesus to be your Savior?”

 “Sure!” they said enthusiastically after looking at each other for a second.

They were excited about praying and their words were clear. They grinned when they finished and agreed to tell their youth pastor what they had done. They couldn’t wait to get baptized.

 “I’m curious.” I said. “You’d obviously knew about Jesus. Why hadn’t you already asked Him to be your Savior?”

“I guess no one asked us to,” Taylor said. Alexis agreed.

I see this all the time. What if I walked up to you and said, “I’m having a fabulous party. The most amazing people will be there. The best bands in the world will be playing and there will be dancing like nothing you have experienced before. The hall will have banquet tables filled with mouthwatering delicacies.Everything is free.”

You’d probably be expecting me to invite you to the party. After all, why would I get you excited if I didn’t invite you? You’d also expect the directions for how to get there. How would you feel if I just walked away?

You’d certainly have the right to chase me down and ask, “What’s the deal? Why did you tell me about the fabulous party and not invite me?”

What if I answered, “Oh, I didn’t want to be pushy. I figured if you wanted to go, you’d ask. Other people can tell you how to get there. Do your own research and make your own decision.”

It sounds silly yet I hear about Christians doing that every day. When I tell people what I do they often say, “I’ve been witnessing to (fill in the blank) for years. They just aren’t interested in Jesus.”

I always ask what they mean by “witnessing to.” They usually report that they have been telling people about Jesus, selling the merits of Christianity or the Christian lifestyle, inviting people to church, and even dangling heaven as a carrot or using hell as a stick. What most people don’t do is invite people to the amazing eternal Jesus party and give directions for how to get there. The result – their prey doesn’t get saved and invariably runs the next time they see them coming. I have to confess that I used to do the same thing.

I am begging you to give an invitation and directions. When I was a child, our church had what we called “The Invitation.” Many churches still do this. At the end of the service, the pastor gave the Gospel and asked people to walk the aisle to give their life to Jesus – a simple process that, if done right, works. Regardless of your opinion of that process, you have to admit that in those churches, no one leaves without an invitation to the Jesus party or directions for how to get there. Frankly, I don’t care what process a church uses as long as they invite people to Jesus and tell them how to meet Him.

Instead of talking people to death or giving an annoying Jesus sales pitch, ask people where they are going in the next life and why God should let them into heaven. Give the Gospel scriptures and invite them to meet Jesus.

Not everyone will say yes to your invitation but at least you’ve done your part. Just today, a man said he and his fiancé had been talking about Jesus, going to church, and trying to figure it out. After listening to the powerful Gospel scriptures, he agreed that he wanted to become a Christian but said he thought he and his fiancé should do it together. No problem – I gave him a tract with the directions and told him how to explain it to his fiancé. I trust prayer, the scriptures, and the Holy Spirit so I’m sure they are both now on their way to heaven. Give an invitation.

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