We felt a cool breeze swirl around us as we huddled inside quilts, looking up at the stars as they peaked through the black night. As we gazed into the universe, our 12-year-old conversation found its way to the topic of religion. The both of us, 7th graders at a sleepover, began to share our religious beliefs as we perched ourselves on the trampoline in my friend’s backyard. She became more and more curious about the concepts I shared, as she had not grown up consistently attending any church with her family. We stayed up late into the night discussing everything from life after death, to what an “apostle” was. I left the sleepover feeling excited about her interest in Jesus Christ; this was my first real experience in trying to help someone come closer to the Savior.
The next few weeks came in a whirlwind, as she turned a complete 180 and threw everything I shared with her in my face, and also ended our friendship. I felt devastated; my 12-year-old mind could not understand how something so awful and horrible could happen. This humbling experience brought me to my knees, and actually resulted in my first moment of knowing that God knew me personally and heard my prayers, and that He was a real Being that lived.
I knew that from the moment I received divine communication from my Father that this experience was necessary for my relationship with Him, but I didn’t fully understand until almost 10 years later that this experience was actually a success for my friend as well.
I do not think my missionary experience as a 7th-grader is at all unique. Anyone who has attempted to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ has experienced the (hopefully) cordial “No thanks, I’m not interested.” So what’s the point? Why should we keep trying if we keep getting rejected? As a missionary in New Zealand, us missionaries would ask at least 150 people a week if they were interested in learning more about Jesus Christ. It was wonderful if we found a single person everyday that said they wanted to meet with us again to learn more about the Savior. It was absolutely miraculous if we found two people a day. So that means that on a particularly miraculous week, 136 people – that’s 90%, people – said they weren’t interested. That is an absurdly high rejection rate! Again I ask the question: what’s the point?
The answer, my dear friends, is the Rule of Sevens.This was something I learned about as a missionary, and it totally blew my mind.
The Rule of Sevens states that the average person will not accept the invitation to learn more about the Savior and His Gospel until the seventh invitation.
So, that means that every time you invite someone to come to church with you, to pray, to read the Bible or the Book of Mormon, to attend a Monday night family devotional (“Family Home Evening“), or to meet with the missionaries, you are not only giving them a chance to learn more about the Savior, but also helping them on their journey towards finding the truth. Rejection now has a purpose, and there is no need for hurt feelings or taking offense when a loved one or stranger does not accept your invitation.
Understanding the Rule of Sevens helps us to stop being afraid of the answer to our invitation. We don’t know where they are on their journey; Maybe they are “at a 2,” so they really need 5 more invitations before they are ready, or maybe your invitation will be the 7th and you will see the combined efforts of all past followers of Christ culminate into one beautiful moment as he or she accepts your invitation to come closer to the Savior. Another thing to consider is that a single invitation may not move them along on their journey, put perhaps a series of invitations during a period of their life will move them along.
I’m not sure what ever happened to my 7th grade friend, but I hope that my interaction helped her on her journey towards Christ and His Gospel. My assumption is that our interaction helped her a little bit, and I hope wherever she is in the world, that is she doing well.
Stay tuned for another upcoming blog post about inviting others, and how the nature of our invitations can make all the difference. Also, the image in this post is from a family reunion in Zion’s National Park that we had a few weeks ago 🙂