When I was a student, my student worker would always drill into me about inviting friends to small group, church events that we were putting on. Yes I knew that it was important to invite friends to things and I did invite friends, but when the majority of them said no and rejected me time and time again, it became progressively more discouraging. Sound familiar?
Last year, Miriam Swaffield (now Swanson!), released research she carried out on how students are coming to faith, in the form of a blog series. The number one factor that influences how students are coming to faith in Jesus today is being invited to and experiencing Sunday church. The second was being invited to and connecting into a small group. Do you notice the running theme? There is so much power in an invite.
I experienced this in the past month at my church. I was on prayer team one Sunday morning and two students sauntered up for prayer. I expected them to be responding to the preach like everyone else. One of them started to explain that this had been her first time at church and she wanted to know Jesus. Her flatmate had decided to invite her to church last minute, just as they were about to get in the car and go. She hadn’t expected her flatmate to say yes, but through the invite, her flatmate encountered the Holy Spirit and gave her life to Jesus. God transformed her life through a last minute invite.
The next week we had a student attend church for the first time because of an invite from a friend who she hadn’t spoken to in a long time. She came along and the Holy Spirit met her during the worship and she chose to follow Jesus that day. God transformed her life through a simple invite from a distant friend.
The following week we had another student attend church off the back of multiple invites to church. The Christian Union had hosted their Events Week that week with the theme of ‘Search’. He attended some of the lunch and evening bars searching for something greater. Over the days, multiple students invited him to church and he found Jesus that Sunday. God transformed his life through a persistent invite from multiple people.
These three students came to faith through an invitation. One was a last minute invite, one was an invite from a distant friend and the other, a persistent invite. An invitation can look different and take different forms, but they can all have the same transformational power - How are you inviting your friends to church? Are you inviting them to church? If not, why not?
A flatmate, course-mate or uni friend encountering God for the first time is so worth your ego getting bruised a few times in rejection for that one friend who accepts your invite and God transforms their life.
God transformed *insert the name of one of your friends* life through *insert how you will invite them to church*.