"I keep asking my friend to a course but they always say no."
There’s nothing quite like the excitement of talking with a friend who’s eager to learn more about the Christian faith. However, as most of us have experienced, our invitations to investigate Jesus aren’t always met with enthusiasm, and it’s easy to be discouraged if they’re repeatedly refused. Here are four suggestions to help you persevere with joy in sharing your faith.
Take firm hold of the truth
2 Corinthians 4:6 says: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory.” This verse reminds us that people can only turn towards Christ when Jesus takes the initiative. We need to be on our guard that we’re not trying to take upon ourselves work which only God in his sovereignty can perform, or else we will quickly be crushed.
Thankfully, 2 Corinthians 4 is also wonderfully clear about those things that are our responsibility. “We do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” Our job is to be proactively honest about what we believe. If you’ve invited your friend in a transparent way to talk further about faith, then you have done what God asks. Certainly, let’s persevere and ask our friend again when the opportunity arises, but let’s also leave responsibility for the response with God where it belongs.
Take it up with the Lord
Throughout Scripture, God makes it clear that he values and rewards perseverance in prayer. From hearing the anguished cry of Hannah for a son, to the parable of the persistent widow, God holds out stickability as something that is pleasing to him.
How about instead of seeing your friend’s “no, thank you” as cause for discouragement, see it as an opportunity to love God by persevering in prayer? God has made it possible – with his help and strength – to please him by praying faithfully for our friend. What a privilege that is, regardless of the outcome.
Take time to listen
For some people, the idea of coming on a course is intimidating – even if they hide it well. Let’s make space for our friends to voice their concerns. Build trust by spending time with them and proving yourself trustworthy. There’s no guarantee they’ll agree to come along, but you’re making it more likely that you’ll be somebody they want to talk about the big questions of life with.
Take a different approach
Don’t necessarily assume that lack of interest is the reason somebody refuses your invite — there are all sorts of things that might prevent someone from going through a series. If you think your friend is intimidated by the idea of coming into church, offer to run the course in your home or in a coffee shop, either one-to-one or with one or two others. For some people, finding time is a problem. That’s why we’ve created Hope Explored, a three-session course that is less of a commitment than the other courses. Zoom courses are also great for the time-pressed or those with caring responsibilities, and we have lots of resources in our Leader’s Area to help you run a course virtually.
Finally, it goes without saying that not everybody wants to do a course. Some people prefer chatting informally, some people prefer reading a book, or coming along to a guest event, or for a coffee with you and a few Christian friends. Jesus is infinite, and is infinitely creative about the ways he makes himself known to us. Courses are great, but they are only a tool in God’s hands, which he sometimes graciously uses to call people to himself.
Written by Kay Carter
UK National Director