Are you aware that many have “given up” on public invitations? I mean that in two ways. Many of my preacher friends have stopped having them and many believers have stopped responding to them. Reasons abound. Some have stopped having them because “they no longer work” or “no one responds to them anyways.” Many have stopped responding to them because they either “see no need to do so” or because perhaps they “are so spiritual they have no need to do so” (a bit of sarcasm intended!). Should we give up on them? Are there steps we could take to improve this part of our services? I personally believe we should not give up on them but rather improve them. So here are some random thoughts.
- Preach clearly and in such a way that you are teaching people the importance of hearing the word of God, seeing themselves in its truths, and responding to it in obedience. Then invite them to get started by praying about it! I encourage my audience to kneel if possible. It is not an essential, of course, but kneeling is definitely a special posture for prayer!
- Pray fervently that God will use your message to draw people to salvation, repentance, obedience, and sanctification. Ask God to use you. Ask God to speak to hearts. Ask God to draw sinners to himself. Ask the Spirit to convict of “sin, righteousness, and judgment to come” (John 16:8).
- Teach the people in your congregation about the invitation.
I suggest these five:
1. Teach them to make it a time for prayer. Jesus did say that his house should be called a house of prayer. So close every service with by inviting people to pray about their needs and burdens. Invite them to pray with someone (who is prepared in advance and ready to do so). Jesus also said that if two of us agree on earth as touching anything we shall ask that our Father will hear and answer that prayer. Invite them to come to you for prayer. Invite them to kneel at an altar for prayer (and maybe consider building one in your church). Invite them to be seated and pray or to kneel at their seat and make an altar themselves. The invitation is a time for prayer.
2. Teach them to make it a time to make things right with God. Kneel. Pray. God hears and forgives and restores.
3. Teach them to make it a time to make commitments and to seek God for His help regarding those commitments.
4. Teach them to make it a time to seek counsel. Have men and women who are carefully trained to love, pray, and help during the closing of the service! One of my friends calls them “encouragers” and they wear lapel ribbons identifying them as such. Another has a “prayer room” where several Godly people are available to pray with and help regarding spiritual needs. Some just have people ready to help at the front of the auditorium during the prayer time.None of these people are available by accident. Each person is trained and resources are available and they know exactly what to do and how to best help regarding a variety of needs.
5. Teach your people to make it a time to see souls saved. Preach the gospel and invite sinners to trust in Jesus and his death and resurrection to save them from sin and judgment. Invite sinners to be saved. Carefully explain the gospel and just as carefully explain how to respond to it. I have a pastor friend who told his audience that his staff were available at the back of the auditorium to help them if they needed it. When I glanced back, some people were exiting the auditorium and some ushers were standing around near the back and it was unclear as to who were the staff and to whom you would even speak if you wanted someone to pray with you about being saved! So make it very clear and take nothing for granted. Teach your people to bring unbelievers to the service and to have gospel conversations with them before the service. Teach your people to pray with them if they respond and to continue having conversations if they don’t!
I don’t believe at all that there is only one way to have an invitation. I know our forefathers had “inquiry rooms” and used a variety of methods. I know that invitations have been abused and misused. I still believe they can be used profitably today, and should be!
Thanks for reading.
Your sincere friend,