The family has gathered. Clusters of people are scattered throughout the house, visiting with each other. The cooks have been doing their job in the kitchen. The wonderful aromas have been drifting through the house. And now it is time to eat.
But what if no one says “Let’s eat”? What if people just get hungrier and hungrier but no one gives the invitation. What if no one goes around and gathers the people to the table for the meal?
We live in a world full of hungry people. We have the Bread of Life. The delicious aromas of the everlasting gospel are going around the world more and more. Someone needs to give people the invitation to come to the table and eat, to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord, to embrace all His truth in the Bible and to unite with His final movement!
Here are my top seven simple ways to make the invitation, to make appeals, whether in groups or individually.
1. Taste the food yourself. It’s much easier to make appeals when you believe that everyone in the world would be happier and better off if they accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord, embraced all Bible truth and united with God’s final worldwide movement.
2. Invite those who are hungry. Some people are so used to spiritual junk food that they resist nutritious, delicious wholesome spiritual truth. Don’t force yourself on someone who is not ready to make a decision. Look for those who are looking for something better.
3. Make simple, clear invitations. “The food is ready! Let’s eat! Let’s meet in the dining room right now for prayer” will usually get a much better response than “Here’s a complete menu of what we will be eating today. Are you willing to eat some of everything?” In a similar way “Do you want Jesus to be in charge of every part of your life?” will usually get a better response than “Do you have a comprehensive understanding of all the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and are you willing to obey all of them right now?”
4. The atmosphere is as important as the food. If there are bad attitudes and unhealthy relationships people will get indigestion even if the food is delicious. In a similar way we need to have the fruit of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.) operating in our life when we make appeals so people will enjoy saying “yes”!
5. Emphasize the blessings rather than the obligations. If people don’t eat they will die. And if they don’t accept and follow Jesus they will die eternally. But why not emphasize how good the food tastes, how wonderful the fellowship is and how gracious God is to provide it all. Let people know how wonderful it is to have a Friend and Savior who loves them so much that He died for their sins and He wants a forever friendship with them. Then say “Is there anything that would make it difficult for you to follow Jesus wherever He leads and be baptized like He was?”
6. Help people get to the table. Some people just need to hear “Let’s eat” and immediately they race to the table. But what about great-grandma who is in a wheel chair? She needs someone to push her to the table. What about the children who are playing? They need someone to go to them, get down on their level and encourage them to come and help them turn their attention from their toys to the wonderful meal that is waiting. In a similar way some people some people are ready to sign the card, raise their hand or come to the front as soon as you say “I’d like to invite you to accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord today.” But others will need extra help. You might say “Jesus loves you so much that He left heaven and came to this dark earth where He was mistreated and killed so that you could accept Him and go to heaven with Him when He comes again. Do you love Him enough to raise your hand right now and say ‘I love you, Lord and I accept your promise to come into my heart and home and change me’?”
7. Ask clarifying questions to those who don’t seem ready to come to the table. If someone doesn’t respond to the invitation to come sit at the table and eat there might be a hidden reason that becomes clear when we ask a few questions. In a similar way when someone resists responding to the first or general invitation we might ask some questions like this and listen for the answers of their lips and of their hearts.
a. How has God brought you to this place in your life?
b. What have been some of the turning points in your life where you have seen Jesus change you?
c. Have you come to the place in your life where you can say “I have accepted Jesus as my Creator, Savior and Lord”?
d. Do you want Jesus to be in charge of every part of your life?
e. Have you come to the place in your life where you can say “I realize the Bible is different from every book ever written. It is God’s voice speaking to me and I want the Holy Spirit to help me follow God’s truth. And I want to learn something from God’s Word every day”?
f. Is the Sabbath truth clear to you? Is there anything that would make it difficult for you follow Jesus and keep it holy?
g. Have you come to the place in your life where you can say “I realize in these last days that God is raising up His final movement. Just like the early church it keeps all the commandments of God, arose as a result of prophecy, teaches and preaches prophecy and has a prophet in it. And I want to be a part of God’s final movement”?
h. Is there anything that would make it difficult for you to be baptized and unite with God’s final movement?
With a heart full of love for Jesus and all His children go out and invite hungry people to come to the table and feast on all that Jesus provides and show them how to begin inviting other hungry people to come to the table as well.
Dan Serns is the Evangelism Coordinator, Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists