ago I was invited to preach in a church that emphasizes relationships. 
The individual who called made it clear that their pastor does not give
an invitation at the conclusion of his message.  “We don’t want to put
people on the spot” was the way he phrased it.  Politely I informed the
gentleman that my entire sermon was an invitation.  As Spurgeon once said,
“He succeeds best who expects conversion every time he preaches.”1

cannot imagine proclaiming the Good News and not giving the listeners an opportunity
to respond to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.  So, I accepted
the invitation to preach in this relational church with the understanding that
a public invitation would be part of the message. That morning three adults
came making their professions of faith.  One was a lady in her early 30’s
who told me after the service, “I have been coming here for six weeks and each
Sunday I felt the need to make this decision. Thank you for allowing me
to do publicly what my heart has done inwardly.”

the apostle Paul instructed the young pastor, Timothy, to “Preach the word”
he also added, “[and] do the work of the evangelist” (II Timothy 4:2,5). 
What is the work of an evangelist?  It is to invite people to accept Jesus
as Lord and Savior.  The pastor/evangelist proclaims the message. 
The Holy Spirit prepares the heart.  The invitation is extended. 
The lost who are obedient respond.

we proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ we also assume the role of ambassador. 
We are called, “ambassadors for Christ” (II Corinthians 5:20).  The only
responsibility of an ambassador is to represent his supreme ruler and share
word for word what has been entrusted to him. 

as Jesus came preaching and inviting we are to do the same.  He seldom
permitted people who sought blessing from Him to leave without confessing Him. 
He said to the man with the withered hand, “Step forward” (Mark 3:3). 
He responded to the woman with the issue of blood by saying, “Your faith has
made you well” only after she declared in the presence of all the people the
reason she had touched the hem of his garment (Luke 8: 43-48).  He told
Zaccheus to, “Come down” in front of all the citizens in Jericho, (Luke 19:1-10). 
The rich young ruler was told by Jesus so all could hear, “Sell what you have
. . . and come, follow me” (Luke 18:22).  The first sermons of Jesus, John
the Baptist, and Peter called for repentance which demanded a public response.
Moses, Joshua, and Elijah drew the lines in the sand and issued an invitation.  

invitation is the, “Now what?” after you have said, “And in conclusion,” for
the third time.  Now that the audience has heard the proclamation, what
is expected of them?  This is not a time for manipulation in order to exhibit
your skills of persuasion.  It is not a time to increase your statistics
so they may be reported in your denominational publication or your next brochure. 
It is not a time to make false claims of prosperity and blessings.  

invitation must be given with complete dependence on the Holy Spirit. 
It must be given clearly.  It must be given honestly.  It must be
given courteously.  It must be given urgently.  It must never be prolonged
just to get someone to walk the isle.  This is as wrong as neglecting the
invitation all together.  Integrity must be maintained throughout
the entire proclamation. 

time I extend an invitation I feel totally helpless.  If the Holy Spirit
doesn’t convict and convert a lost sinner, I certainly don’t want him/her responding. 
This is the most sensitive part of the service.  An individual’s eternal
destiny may be at stake.  It may mean the difference between a marriage
being reconciled and a divorce.  It may be the turning point in a teenager’s
life.   It is a holy time for the Holy Spirit to do what only He can. 

message must never be preached or the invitation extended with an air of superiority. 
It must always flow from the breath of spirituality.  After all we, the
proclaimers, once responded to an invitation to confess our sins, exchange our
lives for His and come follow Him.

me be quick to say the public response is the initial phase of the invitation. 
Unless there is immediate follow up and mentoring, the new convert is left like
a newborn on a beach at low tide.  It is sad but true that most churches
do not provide either discipleship classes for the new Christian or orientation
for those who join their churches from other denominations.  British demographer,
David Barrett found that, “more than 53,000 people leave the church every week
and never come back.”2  The invitation
must continue from birth to maturity.

late Dr. Stephen Olford said, “If a church as a whole, or a Christian as an
individual, is to progress in spiritual growth, then every message, sermon,
or truth declared, must elicit a total response on the part of those who hear
us.”3  Each time you preach, begin your
sermon with an invitation and weave it through your entire message.  When
the mind is challenged, the heart warmed, and the will committed the response
is, “I believe”.  Proclamation demands an invitation.


Drace is President of the Jerry Drace Evangelistic Association, Jackson, TN. 
His e-mail address is


Tom Carter, Spurgeon At His Best, (Baker, 1988), 68.
2. David B. Barrett, ed., World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative
Study of Churches and Religion in the Modern World A.D. 1900-2000 (Nairobi,
Kenya: Oxford University Press, 1982), p.v.
3. Stephen and David Olford, Anointed Expository Preaching,
(Broadman & Holman, 1998), 274.

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