Friendships take time and trust, so take the time to become friends first before asking someone to join you in an I-GIG.
Some (especially newly arrived internationals from the Middle East, South Asia, and other places) often only feel comfortable in a same gender group. So, men should lead men’s I-GIGs and women should lead women’s I-GIGs as much as possible.
WHO: Groups can be as small as one leader and one participant or may include 3-6 participants, one leader, and another Christian. Typically, you do not want the number of Christians in the group to outnumber the non-Christians.
WHAT: Explain the purpose of getting together. Here is one idea:
“I’m inviting a few friends to take a look at what the Bible says. It’s going to be informal and relaxed. You don’t need to know anything about the Bible. I think your questions and thoughts would add a lot to the discussion. Would you like to come?”
WHERE: Look for a comfortable, convenient place to meet. If your friends don’t have cars, find a place that is within waking or biking distance from them, is on a bus line, or have someone give them rides. If they have never been to the meeting place before, perhaps you or a friend could meet them at their home and walk/bike/take the bus with them the first time.
WHEN: Decide how long and how often you plan to meet. Expect 60 to 90 minute meetings, longer if you get together for a meal or snacks before or after the study. People typically don’t like to make long commitments, so see if they will come for 4 weeks and then they can decide whether to continue. If they are uncomfortable committing to 4 weeks, that’s ok. Encourage them to come to the first study and then see what they think about continuing.
You could say something like, ”Let’s meet at my apartment. Would Wednesday evenings at 7 pm work for you? We will meet for about an hour and a half, once a week, for four weeks.” The video below gives you some practical tips on how to ask and what to expect.
Cultural differences can complicate how we understand someone’s response. In some cultures it is polite to decline the invitation the first and second time before accepting. In others, if you ask directly for a yes or no answer, the person will say “yes” so you don’t lose face, but they may not show up. So, it is important to get to know your friend and their culture before inviting them to an I-GIG.
If they say no without elaborating, you can ask if there‘s a time or place that would work in their schedule. If they provide another reason they can't go, don't pressure them. You could say something like, "OK, maybe some other time."
“The first day I arrived at my university, I thought I would be very homesick because I had no family or friends around. Actually…no. I spent my spare time with my new Christian friends and attended their Bible study. I never felt I had so much interest in something before. I just couldn’t get enough time with them.” –Zhihua