Invitation & Challenge Study – Week 3, Apply It!
Jesus was the master of invitation and challenge. He knew how to meet and engage people where they were, in their context, situation, and being at that moment. For this third and final week of the study, we’re going to work through how to actually Apply It!
We know what you’re thinking… me? Applying this? Fear is normal, we get it. Rest assured, we’re not asking you to get it perfect with your first attempt. This is a process, and as you’ll see it takes time, lots of trial and error, and that is okay.
So, let’s jump in to Encounter, Engage, and Experience what it is like to put invitation and challenge into practice in your life as you work toward building life-giving relationships.
We have learned a lot together about the calibration of invitation and challenge in the relational life of Jesus. We have taken a look at the importance of both invitation and challenge in creating healthy and vibrant cultures and relationships and discovered a matrix that helps us measure how well invitation and challenge are balanced. As a quick reminder, we have provided the matrix for you below:
Today, we will listen in as a couple practitioners share how leveraging both invitation and challenge in their personal relationships has opened doors to them as the people of God.
Isn’t it inspiring? What a blessing to gain greater insight and deeper understanding of how the balance of invitation and challenge can play out in our everyday lives through the testimony of those who have gone before us. Here’s what you need to recognize… this took practice! Each person you heard from has been on a journey of learning to balance both invitation and challenge in their relationships. And they would tell you–sometimes it is more natural than others and sometimes it’s more well received than others. But God is working through their willingness to enter into relationships as Jesus did.
Generally speaking, people express either invitation or challenge more naturally. It’s a bit like being an introvert or an extrovert. It’s how they’re wired up. Let’s take a closer look at our own natural tendencies to see what we can learn.
Consider one area of relationship in your life. This could be a family member, workplace connection, neighbor or close friend. With this relationship in mind, imagine being on the receiving end of the following statement:
“Life is so frustrating right now. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get ahead. Everyone always needs something from me.”
What is your gut reaction? (Please keep in mind, there is no right or wrong answer).
- empathize, listen, ask questions that allow them to continue to vent and express their frustration
- ask them what they’ve tried, what they could say ‘no’ to, offer solutions
Both reactions are real and both reactions hold value. Neither is inherently right or wrong. The first is invitational, the second is challenging. While neither response is right or wrong, both, when expressed in isolation, are incomplete. As we look to interact with those around us more like Jesus did, we want to express a balance of both invitation and challenge. We want people to feel both loved and loved too much for us to leave them where they are.
By recognizing our default, we can more readily practice flexing the weaker muscle. If we naturally express challenge, we can be more intentional about looking for ways to be invitational in our interactions. Likewise, if we are naturally invitational, we can look for gentle ways to introduce challenge into our relationships. In doing so, we strengthen our ability to offer a healthy balance of invitation and challenge to those we interact with.
Let’s reflect upon the scenario above. When we ask God for wisdom and seek to model our response after his, we are able to offer both a sympathetic ear (invitation) and gently ask questions that lead them to see a way forward that helps them cope with or begin to resolve their current difficulties (challenge). As a result, we convey the unconditional love and acceptance of our Savior while encouraging them to change their thinking or actions in a way that brings opportunity for growth. By offering both invitation and challenge, we love them no matter what and yet love them too much to leave them where they are.
It is important to keep in mind that relationships that have previously been saturated in invitation will initially feel threatened when challenge is introduced. Challenges in these relationships should be brought gently and laced with high invitation. It will take time and a bit of discomfort (one might say it feels stressful) before these relationships move from a cozy place to an empowered one.
Likewise, people in relationships that have been saturated with challenge may be caught off guard and unsure when invitation is introduced. While they long to feel valued and appreciated, an abrupt shift in culture could leave them feeling off balance and uncertain of your motivation (i.e. do you actually care, or are you just buttering them up for the next task?). It will take time to earn their trust before these relationships move from a stressful place to a trusted and empowered one.
By creating a culture defined by empowering and discipling through the use of invitation and challenge, your relationships with others will flourish. And balancing invitation and challenge in a healthy way can lead to breakthroughs in both secular and spiritual conversations. This means calibrating a healthy balance of invitation and challenge will provide opportunities to empower and disciple your children, your spouse, your coworkers, your neighbors and so on. You may find yourself discipling your child in time management, your spouse through a challenging relationship at work, or your neighbor as they struggle to connect with their teen. And, God willing, as you engage with the people around you, you may even find yourself discipling someone who is exploring what a relationship with God might mean for them.
As people of God, we want to seek to love the people in our context no matter their circumstances while loving them too much to leave them where they are. Establishing these relationships takes time and intentionality, but when we model our lives and interactions after those of Jesus, we’re taking a step down the right path.
In Matthew 7:24, Jesus says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” We have spent time in scripture looking at the ways Jesus interacted with people. We’ve begun to understand how we encounter invitation and challenge in our own lives. Now it’s time to practice what we’ve seen and learned as we engage with the people around us!
Pray that God would open your heart and mind to the relationships and people around you that would benefit by receiving more invitation from you. Write down the names that come to mind below.
Pray that God would open your heart and mind to the relationships and people around you that would benefit by receiving more challenge from you. Write down the names that come to mind below.
Choose one name from each list. Pray over those two people and ask God to help you discern a small step toward a healthy balance of invitation and challenge in those relationships. Write a simple plan for each context. (For example: I will invite Joanne to join me for a coffee on Wednesday after school drop-off. -OR- When I see Mark next week, I will ask him how things are going with his daughter and whether he has made a first step toward re-connecting with her.)
Ready, Set, Go!
Now you’re ready to begin to “dip your toe in the water” of invitation and challenge. We’d encourage you NOT to take what you’ve learned and tuck it away somewhere, but begin to use it. Take it slow and pray for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you. Opportunities won’t occur every day, maybe not even once a week. That’s o.k., and normal. The point is, when the Spirit does open a door that you recognize it and can engage.
Blessings to you!
The Multipli Team
Are You Ready For More?
If you have a heart for the lost, a desire to share Jesus with those around you, and a yearning for something more to help spread the good news, then perhaps you’re ready to participate in Genesis Leader.
Genesis Leader is our first full training series that helps Christians train believers how to engage non-believers, introduce them to Jesus, and then how to build a relationship with Him.
Register Online Today or Schedule a Call!
to learn how you can share Jesus in your everyday life and community! Or if you’d to learn more, click HERE!
The total, limited-time introductory fee is $495, billed monthly at $49.50 for 10 months.* That’s 50% of the normal fee!
* A one-time registration fee of $49.50 will be billed at the time of registration, followed by 9 months of $49.50.