I’m a big fan of preaching. When I was only twelve years old I read “Biblical Preaching” by the late, great Haddon Robinson. Soon after I preached my first sermon at a “preaching contest” in the little, fundamentalist Christian school I attended. I was so terrified during my 7 minute sermonette that I literally shook the pulpit with my white-knuckled fingers clinging to the sides of the pulpit. But the judges mistook my terror for boldness and gave me an A rating.
I’ve been hooked ever since.
Since I wasn’t any good at sports, I decided to put my whole effort into becoming the best preacher I could possibly be. So I began to listen to the best preachers I could find. From pastors on the radio to listening to old cassette tapes of famous preachers to watching televangelists, I listened to thousands of sermons over the years, taking copious notes along the way.
I wanted to learn from the best.
Not only that, but, over the course of my 30+ years as a preacher, I’ve been privileged to have traveled with some of the greatest Bible teachers on the planet. Throughout much of the 2000’s I toured with Promise Keepers and was blessed to preach alongside some amazing communicators.
It was an honor. I learned much from them along the way.
But over these decades of traveling with preachers and listening to all kinds of sermons, I’ve come to a conclusion that makes me sad. It’s this: Most preachers I’ve heard train wreck at the Gospel invitation. They don’t give a clear Gospel and/or invitation for unbelievers so unbelievers can say “yes” to Jesus.
What is the invitation I’m referring to? The Gospel invitation! It’s the moment when a preacher invites unbelievers to believe and the lost to be saved. It’s the moment when all the angels of heaven pause in anticipation of just “one sinner who repents” and then holds a praise party in his/her honor (Luke 15:10).
In many ways this is the most important part of every sermon. It’s when the preacher demonstrates the power of the Gospel to his watching congregation. It’s when God is glorified by the proclamation of the Gospel. It’s when the bridge is built from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light and sinners are invited to cross it in faith.
Here’s 5 ways most preachers blow it during the invitation:
1. Failing to Present a Cross-Centric Gospel.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)
When Paul ministered to the Corinthians for 18 months he had one main sermon…the Gospel.
If you don’t preach the cross you don’t preach the Gospel. The blood-stained cross of Jesus is the centerpiece of salvation. Without the death of Christ there is no resurrection or hope for any of us.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard preachers give the “Gospel” and not even mention the cross, let alone focus on it. This means they didn’t actually give the Gospel at all.
Here is a video of a ten year old girl named Quinn. Her church filmed her testimony before she was baptized at a church I recently preached at. In her baptism video, Quinn gave an explanation of the Gospel that was clearer than 90% of the pastors and evangelists I’ve heard. Her parents gave me permission to post.
She makes the cross central to her Gospel explanation. So should we.