Have you ever wondered how you could improve the effectiveness of your preaching? Improving the invitation may be one of the keys. An invitation is simply a speaker persuading and convincing an audience to respond to, obey, and receive the Word of God, and to seek God as a result. Biblical illustrations abound. I like Joshua’s invitation in Joshua 24; Peter’s in Acts 2; and Paul’s in Acts 17. Elijah’s on Mt. Carmel was quite effective as well. Jesus’ ministry is filled with them too! A preaching service should have an invitation for a variety of reasons, including prayer, repentance, counsel, encouragement, and salvation. How do you give one effectively? Here are five keys.
The first key is to have an effective and well-developed message. A well-developed message will have a clear explanation of the truth of the text based on a well-developed proposition or point. A proposition is a one-sentence summary of the entire text and message. It summarizes the text. It communicates your intentions as the speaker. It provides a solid foundation for developing the text and the message. It is essential in providing a platform for practical application. Which leads to a second key:
The second key is to have a clear and effective application. Once you understand your text enough to summarize it in a single-sentence proposition and subsequently explain the text in clear and simple terminology, you should carefully and specifically apply it to the everyday lives of your audience. I personally shoot to have at least three applications. My pastor recently preached a message about “representing Christ” and in his application talked with us about our soul-winning, about our parenting, and about our finances. Perhaps it will help to ask questions as you prepare your message. Based on the teaching of this passage, what do I want to encourage the audience to do? How will this apply to their lives and help them to become better Christians if they obey? And so forth.
The third key is to be well-prepared in every detail. Pray over your invitation. Plan it carefully. One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given in regards to this matter was this: write it down. Write it down! As you do so, explain things very simply. Make your invitation clear and simple. Don’t assume your audience knows what you mean. If you are asking people to pray, tell them so. If you are inviting them to meet a counselor, explain where and how and who. Carefully prepare everything. Communicate your intentions with your musicians. Communicate to your staff. Communicate with those running the PA system. My invitation will often begin with these words: “Would you now stand with me and simply bow your heads in the spirit of prayer. Before I pray, can I ask you a few simple questions?” And so forth. The more prepared you are the more effective you will be!
The fourth key is to have well-trained counselors. A counselor is someone who is ready and available to help someone from the Bible! Train them to be ready. Train them in the basics of leading a sinner to faith in Christ. Train them to pray. Train them to follow-up! Train them to be aware of the needs of people in the church. Sometimes the best “invitations” happen when the service has ended and a counselor who is sensitive to the needs around them reaches out in love! None of this happens by accident. Training is vital.
The final key is to learn to be Spirit-lead. It is His Word. He loves people and desires to work in their lives and knows the very thoughts of their hearts. As you learn to listen to His voice and to follow His lead, He will direct you in regards to your invitations. I have paused on more than a few occasions and simply knelt for a moment of prayer to seek His leading. I urge you to do the same.
Inviting people to respond to the teaching and preaching of God’s Word is super-important. The format can vary greatly. Many give “come-forward” invitations. Some give “go backward” ones (i.e. to the back of the auditorium)! Some have prayer stations in a separate section of the auditorium. Some have used ‘inquiry rooms’ staffed by well-trained counselors. No matter which method you may use, I challenge you to be as effective as you can be.
9 thoughts on “How to Give Effective Invitations!”
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, … how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
Apparently, Jesus did not have a “well-developed message, clear and effective application,” or maybe He was still “learning how to be led by the Spirit.”
Your entire blog is about minipulating people and man-centered religious experience. By your standard, Jesus was an ineffective invitation giver.
Thanks for your comment. However, I would disagree with you (obviously). Jesus’ message that you quoted is a great example of simplicity in preaching and He certainly presents a clear and effective application. The illustration He used made it even more clear and effective and there is no doubt that He was lead of the Spirit! This passage is a great example of preaching that calls for a response (i.e. an invitation). There is nothing Jesus was doing that was manipulating people and for us to emulate what He did makes preaching very effective. Calling people to respond and to pray and to obey and to seek God is something that Jesus did repeatedly, so to call it “manipulating people” is probably unwise.
If I teach God’s Word in the power of God’s Spirit, how is it a “man-centered religious experience” to ask the hearer to respond in obedience and repentance and prayer and faith? Isn’t that what you would want your audience to do?
Hey Will: It just occurred to me that your concern may be that Jesus did not receive the response He was seeking. That is always possible. However, it certainly did not stop Him from presenting a very “clear and effective application.” It should not stop us either. If we present the truth, but do so in a way that is confusing and unclear, we have failed. The point of my blog post is that we should take this seriously and work diligently to be effective and clear in our presenting the truth and in our calling people to prayer, repentance, faith, and obedience.
You clearly do not understand what I was saying. Obviously, Jesus did everything perfectly. You are the one doing things incorrectly. If the goal is to be “effective” with invitations then by your standard Jesus was ineffective. “Ye would not” means they didn’t respond to His invitation.
The major problem with your blog is that you are trying to manufacture results. Jesus preached the truth without manipulating people. So should you.
Hey Will, thanks for your comments. Your assumption that I am “trying to manufacture results” is an erroneous judgment of motives. Of course you can assume the judgment you made. However, if my motive is, as my blog states, “persuading and convincing an audience to respond to, obey, and receive the Word of God, and to seek God as a result,” you should be for that, not against it. The result I want when I preach is for people to do that very thing. I can’t make anyone respond any more than Jesus did, but I can do what God has called me to do and invite them to do as they did in Acts (they gladly received his word). I can call people to “be not hearers only but to be doers of the word.” I can pray fervently that when my audience hears the word of God that they would “”receive the word with all readiness of mind, and search the scriptures daily.” After all, God has been pleased that “by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” To preach without calling people to believe would be a failure on the part of the preacher. Perhaps you are among those who believe that a preacher should not invite people to respond. If that is so, I respect your right to take that position. I would also firmly believe that you are incorrect. Sincerely – Dave
I failed to ask, Will, are you a pastor? If so, where do you pastor and how long have you been there?
Thanks for these suggestions. I appreciate your emphasis on removing things that might hinder someone from responding to the preaching. What a shame to go fishing, but never draw the net.
Thanks Dennis! I am praying for you and the work there in the Northwest. Keep it up my friend.
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