Grove of birch trees

Invitation & Challenge Study – Week 1, Jesus’ Pattern

Thank you for choosing to wade in the waters a bit with us as we dip our toes into the words and the ways of Jesus. We are honored to have you alongside us and pray that this time together will whet your appetite to explore and discover in practical ways how to live as everyday missionaries in the places where you live, work and play.

As we dig into Week 1, to Encounter, Engage, and Experience the pattern of Jesus as He invites and challenges those around Him, we’d like the opportunity to introduce ourselves. We invite you to watch this short clip to help you get to know us a bit.

Let’s Get Started to Encounter, to Engage, and to Experience the pattern of Jesus as He Invites & Challenges those around Him!

Simply click on the tab Encounter It to begin!


A lot of people followed Jesus, but not everyone was ready and willing to be discipled by him.

You see, discipleship involves a deeper, more intimate relationship. It goes beyond marveling at his teachings and being amazed by his miracles. A disciple gains an all-access pass to the life of Jesus. A disciple is invited to come closer, to know what Jesus knows, to do as Jesus does, to love as Jesus loves. We want to move from being followers of Jesus to being his disciples – a people whose words and actions reflect the unconditional, come as you are, transformative love of Jesus that changes lives.

As we engage the people around us with this kind of love, we will begin to have our eyes opened to what God has already prepared and the ways the Spirit is already working in the lives of those around us. The question is, are we equipped to respond? Let us, as disciples of Jesus, seek to become more like him in the way we interact relationally with those around us.

To do this, let’s dig into scripture together to gain insight into the way Jesus interacted with the people he encountered, ultimately zeroing in on his relationship with the disciples. Jesus had the uncanny ability of knowing how to engage people in any walk of life. It didn’t matter if he had just met you along the road, you had been following him for months, or you belonged to a group called the Pharisees (a religious group vehemently set against all that Jesus taught and represented). Let’s take a look at each group and see how he interacted with them…grab your Bible and turn to the book of Luke. 

Now, Click the ENGAGE IT – Part A tab above to continue…


Those he met along the road…

Turn to Luke 7:11-17. In these verses we see Jesus traveling from town to town with his disciples. On this particular day, he is passing through the town of Nain and happens upon a funeral procession. We’ll join them there…

11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him.

12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.

13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, ”Young man, I say to you, get up!”

15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”

17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

What is Jesus’ emotional reaction to the crowd?

What is Jesus’ physical reaction to the crowd?

Would you describe Jesus’ interaction with the crowd as one that feels inviting or challenging?

Those who had been following for months…

Turn to Luke 9:10-11. Here we see Jesus inviting his disciples to a time of rest after a difficult and challenging season. But word of their departure spreads quickly, their intended destination is learned and the crowds of people who had been following Jesus followed yet again. Let’s see how Jesus reacts…

10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida.

11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

What is Jesus’ emotional reaction to the crowd?

What is Jesus’ physical reaction to the crowd?

Would you describe Jesus’ interaction with the crowd as one that feels inviting or challenging?

The Pharisees who opposed him…

Turn to Luke 11:37-41. Here we join Jesus in the home of a Pharisee who has invited him in for a meal…

37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table.

38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.

39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.

40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

What is Jesus’ emotional reaction to the Pharisee?

What is Jesus’ physical reaction to the Pharisee?

Would you describe Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisee as one that feels inviting or challenging?

Now continue to the ENGAGE IT – Part B tab…


A Pattern of Invitation and Challenge

As we continue to look at Jesus’ interactions with those around him, a pattern emerges. In fact, I’m not sure there is a moment recorded in Jesus life that is neutral. As he engages with others we see him regularly practicing the art of both invitation and challenge.

With those who were still searching, wondering, and testing the waters, he was full of invitation. He wanted them to draw closer, ask deeper questions, and encounter unconditional love. There was very little challenge leveled in these relationships.

But what about those who opposed him, whose position and authority were threatened by his teaching and healing. Jesus invited them closer, he was willing to engage in conversation and listen to what they had to say. Yet he desired so much more for these religious leaders. He longed for them to see past the walls they had placed around God’s love and see fully what God had to offer them. So he challenged them, he pushed them to question the motivations of their hearts.

Inviting people in and challenging people to grow.

These two seemingly incompatible ideas come together beautifully as Jesus walked with his disciples. From the very moment they met, their relationship with Jesus was saturated with the delicate balance of invitation and challenge. Look at Matthew 4:18-22:

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.

19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them,

22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus’ first words to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew were words of high invitation, “Come, follow me.” How we all long to be invited, to be wanted, to be in community with others. And Jesus offered this to him. Come. Such a simple word of invitation.

But Jesus didn’t stop there, he continued on to say, “… and I will send you out to fish for people.” Those beautiful words of invitation were immediately followed by words of challenge. He was not just inviting them in, he was challenging them to go out. At this point, Simon Peter and Andrew didn’t comprehend what Jesus was saying, but the invitation to belong far outweighed any fear of the challenge.

And thus the pattern begins. We see it time and again. Take a few moments to read through the following passages from Mark 6. Pay close attention to how Jesus interacted with his disciples. As you read, take note of any words or phrases of invitation and any words or phrases of challenge.

6b Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.

7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.

9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt.

10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.

11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

12 They went out and preached that people should repent.

13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them…

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.

31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.

34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late.

36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages[e]! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”When they found out, they said, “Five and two fish.”

39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.

40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.

41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.

42 They all ate and were satisfied,

43 and the disciples picked up twelve baskets of broken pieces of bread and fish.

44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Did you catch the pattern? Invitation… Challenge… Invitation… Challenge…

Jesus continually invited the disciples closer while challenging them to grow and to learn. As we seek to become disciples of Jesus, those who not only hear what Jesus says, but choose to do as Jesus does, we will inevitably experience both invitation and challenge. You see, God is inviting us into an intentional relationship with him through which he will challenge us to take steps forward in faith as we walk with him and engage with those around us. This is the life of a disciple. This is how God molds and shapes our lives as we seek to live as everyday missionaries.

We’ll explore this dynamic more in the next study. Now it’s time to explore how we experience invitation and challenge in our personal Bible study time and the importance of not just hearing it, but responding to it as well.

Now click the EXPERIENCE IT tab to continue…


As we looked together at the life of Jesus, we saw him engage in a very intentional pattern of both invitation and challenge with his disciples. He continually called them closer, encouraged them, and built relationship with them, while simultaneously challenging them to step out of their comfort zones and consider life from a different perspective. We believe he engages with us in this same way.

God’s word is living and active. When we read his word and ask his Spirit to move in our hearts and minds, he does. Have you ever been especially comforted or burdened by a particular verse in scripture? God is speaking to you! Through his written word he is inviting you to walk more closely with him while simultaneously challenging you to become more like him both in word and action.

It isn’t enough to just receive information or acknowledge that God might be nudging us in a new way. As fully engaged disciples of Jesus, we choose to not only hear, but to respond. It’s time to put that into practice! Take the next 5 minutes or so to practice intentional listening using the prompts below. They will help you take the concept we have studied and begin applying it in your own life.

What are your go-to scriptures – the ones you revisit time and again? Or your favorite stories or parables? List them below. (If you don’t know where they’re found, a quick keyword search on biblegateway.com will help you locate them).

Look up and reread a few of your favorite passages, stories and parables. Consider reading them in a different translation for a fresh take. As you read them, identify whether each scripture speaks invitation or challenge to you and why.

How might God be using scripture to invite you closer?

How might God be using scripture to challenge you to step out in faith?