Evangelistic appeals should spring up in every sermon text
November 3rd, 2016 / By: Tammi Reed Ledbetter | Special Assignments Editor / comments
AUSTIN Evangelistic preaching involves more than tacking an invitation onto the end of a sermon. Danny Forshee, pastor of Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, recalled the advice of 19th century British preacher Charles Spurgeon to take the text and make a path to Christ.
“When the cross is always on my mind in preaching, it’s easy to make that segue to directly appeal to man’s need, God’s provision and man’s response,” Forshee told the TEXAN.
He recommends including an evangelistic appeal multiple times throughout a message, encouraging those who are listening to give their lives to Christ.
“Some of the texts lend themselves more easily to making an evangelistic appeal,” Forshee conceded, but added that the “scarlet thread of redemption that runs throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation” provides opportunities to point people to salvation.
In a recent sermon series on the life of Joseph, Forshee drew parallels to Christ. “There are some beautiful moments in there that just lend themselves to shout the gospel.”
He offered practical ways to preach for a response at preachingsource.com, an online resource of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary that focuses on equipping preaching in text-driven preaching.
Prayer must be a part of sermon preparation as the preacher asks God to save the lost through his preaching. “Prepare your message with lost people in your mind and on your heart,” Forshee added.
“I have found that the Holy Spirit is powerfully present in the presentation of the message if he is also deeply involved in the preparation of the message,” he reminded.
Forshee also recommends sharing personal stories of witnessing to lost people and leading them to Christ. “It will inspire and motivate (church members).”
Preachers should expect there will be a response to the gospel in their messages, he added. “Billy Graham would extend the invitation with these words of anticipation, ‘As you come forward, we will have people at the front to help you.’”
Forshee told the TEXAN he is careful to avoid any form of manipulation. “It’s very grace-based. How can we help and minister to you?” he asks.
Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines believes every preacher should follow Jesus’ example by preaching evangelistically. “A preacher should open his Bible and preach for a verdict—the conversion of men, women, boys and girls,” he shared on the same online preaching resource.
“Jesus’ primary purpose was not to heal the sick, feed the multitudes or clothe the naked,” Gaines wrote. “His priority was preaching the good news of the kingdom of God.”
Currently serving as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., Gaines said he has preached evangelistically since 1977. “I can attest to the fact that more people are saved at a church that preaches the gospel and offers an evangelistic invitation than at a church that does not. If people come to church and are not given the opportunity to hear the gospel and be saved, a reprehensible tragedy has occurred.”
Gaines also underscored the need for evangelistic sermons to be bathed in prayer. “A preacher who rarely talks with God has no business trying to talk for God.”
After explaining, illustrating and applying a biblical text that shares the truth of the gospel, Gaines said a preacher should conclude “by lovingly and articulately inviting his hearers to repent of sin, believe in Christ and receive him as Savior.”
Genuine evangelistic preaching is needed in churches, the Southern Baptist Convention and the nation, Gaines added. “If a preacher should be able to do anything, he ought to be able to preach. If he preaches, he ought to preach evangelistically.”