Think about the last time you tried something new. Maybe you tried a new hobby like rock climbing or cycling or scrapbooking (my personal favorite). Maybe you recently tried out a restaurant for the first time or got into a new show on Netflix.
Have you thought of your new thing?
Now that you have thought about something you tried for the first time recently, I want you to consider why you tried it. I would guess that you tried this new thing because someone you know either invited you to join them in the new thing or recommended it to you.
Was I right?
Chances are that whatever the thing is, you were not inspired to try it. Maybe you were inspired through a commercial to watch a new show one time or eat at a new restaurant, but these are more superficial or require no longterm commitment. The more a new thing requires, the less likely inspiration will motivate us to try it.
The issue becomes glaringly apparent when people are not necessarily looking for something new to do. Yes, on one level this is a matter of personality, but it holds true for seasons of life in general. If you consider young professionals, who may be new to a life of working full time and are most often in a new location, they are much more likely to set out looking for something new to fill the void that work does not. Therefore, they will want to try out the new hot spot in town or try out a church for the first time. They are more likely to go looking for a place to hang and make friends and build community. Man, those were the days!
But what about the rest of us?
I am in my mid-thirties, married, and have three children. I’m not out looking for the new hot spot, for a place to hang, nor to make new friends. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat! You need to bring the new thing to my attention and invite me into it.
What the heck does this have to do with church or leadership?
Too often, leaders in the nonprofit world are waiting for others to be inspired to engage. The problem is that most people are waiting to be invited!
Rarely will people do something new because they are “supposed to” or “feel called to.” This is a very good thing. Even the hint of legalism will send the next generation running in the opposite direction. Many pastors may disagree, but I’m thrilled that people are no longer motived by guilt or projected obligation. Take this and combine it with how little people are willing to commit themselves to an institution, and “supposed to” is almost a thing of the past.
For these reasons and more, we must create a culture of invitation now more than ever. We cannot rely on people to be inspired to step into something new. Rarely are any of us inspiring enough to motivate another person to action. But we can all personally invite someone into a new opportunity to engage and to serve the shared mission.
Often times when we see an organization that is growing and thriving, we assume everyone who got onboard was inspired to do so. When you dig a little deeper, however, you discover the systems, the structures, and the processes that perpetuate a culture of invitation; which is what actually led to the growth in the first place.
Who can you invite to come alongside in serving a greater purpose and making a difference?