This post is the eighth post in a ten part series ... Small Group Leader Training. For more posts in this series check out the series frontpage.
Group Leaders need all kinds of soft skills. These skills grease the gears in our Groups.
As an introvert, some of the soft skills have been really difficult for me to get. I'm shy ... talkative when the ice has been broken, but so hesitant at first. And the soft skill I've had to work hardest on is the skill of Invitation.
The number one reason anyone comes to anything is because someone invites them.
We like to think that advertising and marketing will pull people into our Groups. And sometimes that happens. A flyer at church. A poster on campus. An announcement. But for every person who gets plugged in as a response to marketing, there are a dozen who won't come unless they get a meaningful, personal invitation.
So, how do you give a meaningful, personal invitation?
1) Get to know the person you want to invite
I find people fascinating. Their personal history, what they're learning, the things that interest them ... don't you love to crawl inside someone else's brain and peek at the world through their eyes ... amazing!
That seed of relationship, getting to know the person you want to invite, lowers the barrier to invitation. It makes an invitation personal.
Learn a name. Hear a story. Share one in return. And you're on your way.
2) Describe your Group ... what you do, what you're about
As we're inviting people into our Groups, it's easy to forget that they may not understand what it is we're asking. So many people have never been a part of a good Group. And even more have never been a part of a Group at all.
Telling what it is your Group does (what to expect if you come) and why your Group does it helps people understand why you're inviting them.
"A Group of us get together once a week, have dinner, read a passage from the Bible and talk about it. It's a fun time and a great way to grow in your faith ... " Something as simple as that helps so much! It makes a personal invitation more meaningful.
3) Clearly and directly invite them
As a pretty indirect person, I have to keep reminding myself of this. We assume people will know that they're invited, but they don't. People can misinterpret our signals if we're not clear and direct.
And I see this in my own life. From time to time I hear people having a great time and I feel sad that I'm not included. And sadly, I may have been invited, just not directly. Maybe there was an announcement I missed. Maybe they told me about what they were doing and were surprised I didn't ask for details.
"We're meeting Monday at 7 at such and such a place. Would you like to check it out?"
4) Pause, listen and let them respond
My instinct after I give an invitation is to immediately start verbalizing all of the reasons they might not be able to come. "I know things are busy with school and Monday night football starts and you've got kids and that new job must be crazy and it might rain and I'm younger than you and you might not even be interested in something like this and there are great Groups and churches and other ministries on campus and they might meet at a better time and have cooler people and I really like them too ... so ... no pressure."
Just wait. Let them think about it. Let them ask you clarifying questions.
An invitation isn't a sales pitch.
Our Groups are an environment where we encourage people to grow in their relationship with God. Ultimately, God takes responsibility for our growth, working in us even as we work out our salvation. And he's the one who brings people to our Groups. We just invite.
What else do we need to think about when making meaningful, personal invitations?