Evangelism Professor Ernest Easley Says a Pastor’s Invitation to Turn to Christ Should Be ‘Prayed Through and Prepared for as Much as the Message Itself’

Ernest Easley
Ernest Easley

Southern Baptists’ decline in baptisms reached its 15th year in 2015, decreasing by more than 10,000 from 2014 data recorded by our churches through the Annual Church Profile.

Although 295,212 people were baptized by our churches last year, there is cause for concern whether, albeit figuratively, the waters in our baptisteries are drying up.

Here’s a simple step for all of us: Let’s get back to inviting people to come to Jesus.

Jerry Vines, longtime Southern Baptist leader, recently said, “Invitation is at the heart of the Gospel. Those who respond to the ‘Come’ are to ‘go’ and invite others.”

Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes, “If you [the preacher] haven’t invited, you haven’t preached. If you haven’t persuaded, you haven’t preached. If you haven’t begged, you haven’t preached.” He goes on to say, “to be a preacher is to be a pleader, a persuader, a beggar.”

The “invited” — all who have been invited by God into saving faith — are called to the “inviters.”

Jesus gave invitations. On several occasions, Paul “persuaded” people. Moses gave an invitation, after the golden calf was destroyed as he stood in the gate of the camp, saying, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me” (Exodus 32:26).

So how should the public invitation be given today after the proclamation of the Gospel?

Here are some things to keep in mind in improving our ability in giving a public invitation:

Give the invitation consistently. The late Charles Spurgeon is reported to have said, “Before you conclude any message, make a beeline for the cross.” You never know whom the Spirit of God has led to attend any given gathering. They need to hear the Gospel! And having heard it, they need the opportunity to respond.

Give the invitation clearly. A clear invitation begins long before it’s given. It begins in the study. In other words, the invitation must be prayed through and prepared for as much as the message itself. Longtime Baptist pastor and evangelistic John Bisagno said, “Too often the invitation is thought of as unimportant, something to be tacked on to the end of the sermon.” If the message has three points, consider the invitation the fourth point and clearly plan it out. Never assume the hearers knows what to do. Explain what you’re asking them to do.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Ernest L. Easley