Most of us feel a twinge of apprehension about inviting friends or neighbors to our small groups. The following steps may help ease some of that fear and increase the likelihood that they'll say yes.
1. Begin to pray that God will soften their hearts and create opportunities for the building of your friendship. Ask God to make it clear when the time is right to invite your friends to your group.
2. Invite them into your life long before inviting them to your group. Do things together. Serve them by delivering a meal when they are sick, watching their kids, and listening when they need to talk.
3. Slowly introduce them to others in your group. Invite an unsaved friend over for dessert and coffee the same night you invite friends from your group. If they seem to connect well, look for ways to get them together in the future. The more "group people" your friend feels comfortable around, the less threatening an invitation to your group will be.
4. Start small. Invite them to "neutral" group functions—a women's luncheon, a skating party, etc. A one-day retreat or social functions that include a short devotional may be ways to ease your friends into the spiritual aspects of the group.
5. Talk about the benefits. When the opportunity arises, casually share with them how the group has been a blessing in your life.
6. When you sense the time is right, simply ask your friends if they would like to attend your group the next time you meet.
7. If they say no, don't become discouraged, and don't give up. Refuse to allow their negative response to cause an uncomfortable tension in your relationship. As you continue to be their friend, other opportunities will arise. When the timing seems right, ask again.
8. If they say yes, prepare them ...