November 1, 1991

Faith Pulpit
Faith Baptist Theological Seminary
Ankeny, Iowa
November 1991

Evangelistic Preaching and Giving Invitations

Evangelistic Preaching is a legitimate style of preaching that can and should be used today. Evangelistic preaching is not mere emotionalism. It is not a string of sad stories. It is not what some would call exceptional Christian salesmanship. And, it need not be used exclusively. Preachers must preach the whole counsel of God.

There should be no question that the content of preaching should be the Word of God. The Scriptural content of a sermon is that which gives it life, substance and vitality. Every sermon must convey some spiritual truth. Therefore, it is important for the preacher to know truth, believe truth, love truth and clearly and compassionately communicate truth. Preaching is a miracle. It involves a partnership with the Holy Spirit. In any given congregation you may have people of various ages, from various backgrounds, with various interests, with various levels of education and understanding, yet the Holy Spirit is able to apply the truth of God’s Word being preached. The gospel must, therefore, be preached with clear conviction about the authority of God’s Word.

Preaching includes explanation of truth, illustration of truth, application of truth and invitation to truth. That means people need to know what happened, understand what happened, be able to relate to what happened and then be able to respond to what happened through experiencing a change in life.

Basically, evangelistic preaching is a matter of content and intent. By way of content, the message should have understandable truth that relates to one’s personal relationship with Christ. There must be clear explanation of man’s need, God’s provision to care for that need and man’s response to the provision. By way of intent, the preacher is proclaiming God’s Word in order to gain a response as the Holy Spirit ministers to the spiritual needs of the lost. The intent, therefore, is to bring people into a right relationship with God.

Evangelistic preaching needs to be convincing and logical. It must have clear explanation and convincing argumentation, while it is solidly Scriptural. Communicate truth as Jesus did. He explained, illustrated and applied truth as He spoke.

Evangelistic preaching is preaching that aims to capture the will for Christ. Without prayer, preaching is ineffective. Do not allow preaching to become mechanical and meaningless. How tragic to minister God’s Word in the energy of the flesh. A prayerless church is a powerless church. A prayerless Christian is a powerless Christian. Prayerless preaching is powerless preaching. Evangelistic preaching must be reinforced by spiritual and meaningful prayer.

Evangelistic preaching should lead to a decision. It ought to demand a response. Logical action to the truth presented ought to be favorable response. There should be a spirit of expectancy as the truth of the gospel is preached. Aim for results through the Holy Spirit.

At times there has been discussion regarding, “the invitation system,” as though it were just a human system. Do we have any specific directions in the Bible which we are to follow? Though it is not dealt with specifically in the Bible, I believe we find it in principle. Everything in a service should fit together in order to arrive at a specific conclusion. Biblical preaching should include invitations with specific objectives.

Preach with expectancy. The type of sermon preached will determine the type of invitation given. The invitation could be varied so that you do not fall into the rut of the routine. The natural climax of a sermon should be “what will you do about this truth in your life?”

I would not say that every kind of invitation given today is Scriptural, but I am saying that the giving of an invitation is Scriptural in principle. Christ offered Himself to people to put their trust in Him (Matthew 11:28). In Luke 13 and 16 we see examples of inviting people to respond to Christ. We should accept the responsibility of inviting people to respond to Christ. Consider Acts 2:40 and the words, “testify and exhort.” The word “exhort” could mean to “call to one’s self.” Consider also¬†2 Corinthians 5:20 and the words, “as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” The words “beseech” and “pray” express urgency and seriousness of achieving a positive response.

The giving of an invitation provides a time and a place for people to make public what God has done or is doing in the heart. Can you imagine a salesman describing a product and then not asking people to purchase it? Instruction and impression without invitation will result in action. Preach as though you were absolutely convinced yourself.

A response to an invitation is an outward response to an inner conviction. A public confession can put strength and fiber to a decision that is made in the heart. Never be bashful about inviting people to respond to the gospel. Preach for a verdict.

Invitations should not be judged on the basis of their failure, but truthfully some invitations can cause problems. They may be unclear or inappropriate. Therefore, give invitations clearly. Explain exactly what you mean. Give invitations earnestly and confidently. Have seriousness of purpose and don’t be timid. Give invitations courteously and compassionately. Don’t embarrass people intentionally and don’t be harsh. Be thoughtful, kind and loving.

There are many types of invitations that can be given. You can ask people to come forward, raise the hand, sign a card, stand up, go to a room, remain until the service concludes or to speak to one of the spiritual counselors provided. Why not vary the type of invitation you employ?

We live in an age of materialism, entertainment, religious confusion and economic upheaval. Preachers must, therefore, sound a clear note when they preach God’s Word. As messages are preached about the importance and brevity of life and the seriousness of death, pray that God’s Word will bring eternal results.

Evangelistic preaching is needed today more than ever. Clear and warmhearted invitations need to be given. Church members should be encouraged to pray and possess a spirit of expectancy in the services. Churches can still possess spiritual vitality. Evangelistic preaching should be given serious consideration.