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Get a face in your mind… A neighbor….Someone in your sphere of influence. Several weeks ago I
asked you to imagine those with who you will have contact. Think of one of them right now.
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does he or she know what they are looking for in life?
is he or she confident on the meaning of their lives?
is he or she confident in their eternal future?
does he or she know where to go to get answers to life’s toughest questions?
Here is a true statement about that neighbor of yours.
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in
him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells
them? Romans 10:14
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the point Paul was making to the Roman church was… most people don’t know where to go to
get answers to questions of meaning and eternity…they are lost.
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They do not know intuitively that they should turn to Jesus Christ. They may have heard of him
but never understood the salvation he offers.
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So…somebody has got to tell them.
That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
Romans 10:15
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people who go out of their way to invite their neighbors to consider Jesus as the source of life
are doing a beautiful thing.
there bearer of good news is a beautiful person
Are you beautiful…in this way?
The most beautiful expression of an invitational culture is the encouragement to surrender one’s life
to Jesus Christ.
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it is a beautiful thing to boldly and lovingly call our neighbors to follow Christ.
but…it is also a fearful thing - some of you break out in a cold sweat thinking about it, some of
you lack confidence, some of you are skeptical about whether it’s even our job to do such a
thing.
Today…I want to try to as simply as I can walk you through the steps of this beautiful invitation. Try to
take some of mystique and fear away. Give you clear handles on how to help your friends consider
Jesus.
But first…Review of the series:
“Invitational Culture” = A welcoming, alluring, provocative, enticing, hospitable community
It is time for us to transform from people who hide into people who seek.
Grace Church: Hide or Seek?
First week – Why is an invitational culture so crucial today?
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the state of our neighbors – chronic anxiety, Isolated, distracted, aimless spiritually
Second week – We must invite our neighbors into our lives.
practicing hospitality and love
Third week – We must invite our neighbors into this church.
the wonderful benefits of a great church
Final week – We must invite our neighbors to follow Jesus.
The Outline is not complicated – just want to answer this basic question:
How do you invite a neighbor to follow Jesus?
We’ll examine 5 Steps in the process of challenging your neighbors to surrender to Christ. But first:
2 Necessary convictions: (without which you will do nothing…2 essential stirrings
1. I am concerned about my neighbors
o the current state and their eternal state … judgment
God commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world
with justice by the man he has appointed. Acts 17:30
I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened,
including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded
in the books. Revelation 20:12
Does the state and fate of your neighbors concern you?
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They are separated from and un-reconciled with God
They are lost and without life
They will face judgment
Their eternal destiny is in the balance
Most of us, if pressed, would affirm this concern. Few of us do anything about it. Why is that?
2. I believe that surrender to Jesus is the only way my neighbor’s life can be transformed for now
and eternity
Jesus himself, of course, affirmed this conviction…
Unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:6
As did the early church… (Peter)
There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be
saved.” Acts 4:12
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Again…I ask…do you agree with this? If you don’t – if you believe there are many paths to God, that
salvation is not limited to surrendering to Jesus – then I would understand your reticence to go Billy
Graham on your neighbors.
But if you do affirm the exclusivity of Jesus then why don’t you act on it? Maybe because you don’t
know what to do? Well, let’s try to address that.
How do you invite a neighbor to follow Jesus?
 Step 1 – Invite them into your life
 practice hospitality and practice love – start here and the rest follows naturally!
(Aside - some (a few) have a unique ability to invite a person to follow Jesus without a relationship
- gift of evangelism)
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some of you have begun and have shared stories…BRAVO! the hard part is over!
 Step 2 – Determine where they stand in relationship to Jesus.
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bounded set theology vs. Centered set
o get an idea of…
 their proximity - how far are they from him
 the direction they are moving in
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How do you determine where they are on this diagram?
o Ask good questions…be sincerely interested…
o Inquire about their spiritual upbringing
o Remember the vast majority of Americans have had some kind of spiritual background
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Secret: Follow the path of disappointment
o So you used to live in Akron? - Yeah until my parents divorced. – Was that tough? –
Awful – What got your through it? – I dunno, my grandma, I suppose – Where was God
in it?
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Conversation and storytelling are the keys to determining their proximity to Jesus.
 Step 3 –Begin introducing the spiritual into conversations and your relationship
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Tell your story. They will be interested.
o Lately I have used my medical issues along with my waiting on God in normal
conversation… people are interested!
o As long as you don’t turn it into a sermon – talking naturally about what God means to
you and your story about following Jesus will be respected.
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Focus on the center (Jesus) not the boundary (the decision)
And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” John 12:32
o steer religious conversation back to Jesus
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o steer political/cultural conversations back to Jesus
Remember, sharing the gospel is not fundamentally about pleading, persuading, pleasing, or getting
folks to decide. To share the gospel is to announce something about Jesus. Scot McKnight
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If interested, invite your neighbor to study the Bible together (Esp. the gospels)
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Or, as they get more interested …read a book together
 The Jesus I never knew – Yancey
 Who is this man? – Ortberg
 Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller
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Use creative techniques like short films – Global Short film Network – Scott Santee
http://www.globalshortfilmnetwork.com (CG - Can you get a screen shot of this?)
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Invite them to church or bible study or small group
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Do not argue or use persuasive tactics unless you have been given permission
o you seem to struggle with the problem of pain – how could God…
o you seem to struggle with the thought that Jesus is God
o use apologetics carefully and lovingly…you do not want to win the fight and lose the war
for their soul
o of course you are right – but now they are gone
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In all things remain humble - humility will unlock spiritual authority which will lead you to
influence
Step 4 - When you sense they are ready, invite them to surrender their life to Jesus
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At some point you must call the question.
Your neighbors have to be told so that they can hear.
Once they hear they can now choose to believe.
When they believe they then must call on Him to save them. (Romans 10:14 Inverted)
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It is not enough to continue to have good spiritual conversations. It is not enough for your
neighbor to get religious. It is not for your neighbor to simply believe. They must choose to
surrender their life to Jesus and follow him.
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Let me get specific …
o It is insufficient to invite a person to accept Jesus as their personal savior
o It is insufficient to invite a person to receive Jesus as their savior
Both of those sound like we are doing Jesus a favor – he’s waiting for someone to accept him
or receive him.
o Nor is it insufficient to encourage a person to believe in Jesus
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That one leans too much on the intellectual – yeah I believe in Jesus!
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We need to say what Jesus would say to your neighbor…surrender to me and follow me.
Go and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Matthew
28:19-20
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Surrender your life to Jesus and follow him…
o yes, it includes belief
o yes, it includes acceptance
o yes, it includes receiving
o but it mostly is about repentance, an act of the will and a change of direction
 and it should include the act of baptism as symbol of the surrender
What we are to do is point people to Jesus: we ask them to look to him, to love him, to live before and
under and through and by and in him, to call them to give themselves to Jesus and to what he calls
us to do. Scot McKnight
 Step 5 – Wait for the Holy Spirit to do His work
Key – no matter how clever you are or how committed to this process – unless the Spirit of God is
moving their heart…nothing is going to happen.
When the Spirit comes, he will convict your neighbor of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and
judgment. When the Spirit comes, he will guide your neighbor into all truth.
When the Spirit comes, he will take the knowledge of God make it known to your neighbor.
John 16:9-15 paraphrase
If the Spirit shows up in your relationship with your neighbor … it doesn’t matter how badly your botch
it… it’s going to work. A beautiful thing will happen before your eyes.
The most beautiful expression of an invitational culture is the encouragement to surrender one’s life
to Jesus Christ.
An invitational culture is not just a happy place – it is a beautiful revolution of life and personal
transformation in the name of Jesus.
Church – it is time to rise…. and call our neighbors to surrender to the one who will save them.
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How do you invite a neighbor to follow Jesus?