This article was written by state missionary Rob Jackson.
For many years, the “invitation” or “response time” was an afterthought in my sermon preparation. My time, thoughts and prayers were primarily on the body of the sermon. Today my view on calling for a response has changed. Challenging people to respond to God’s Word is an essential element of a sermon. Some suggestions for preparing for the invitation or call for response include:
1. Ask God to use the preaching of His Word to draw people to Himself.
Pray that God prepares the people for His message as He prepares your heart to preach.
2. Prayerfully write the conclusion and the call for a response.
Remember, your sermon conclusion is not an end but a call for the hearers to respond to the teachings of God’s Word. Someone from a Catholic background has been visiting one of our large churches in Alabama. This young man said, “I like listening to the pastor’s sermons, but it seems he doesn’t prepare the ending. It is like he throws in the same ending every week whether it fits or not.”
3. Prepare the message so you clearly state how the believer can respond throughout the sermon.
Instead of being vague, be specific with the responses the text demands. And share throughout the sermon responses that need to be made. I remember Billy Graham would say earlier in his sermons, “In a few moments, I am going to ask you to….”
4. Persuade the unconverted to repent and believe the Gospel.
Only God can save. However, as a pastor we have a responsibility to persuade men (2 Corinthians 5:11). Charles Spurgeon boldly stated that one of a pastor’s duties is to compel the “unconverted, unreconciled, unregenerate men” to come to Christ.
5. Be expectant.
The Word preached doesn’t return void! It has been reported that Charles Spurgeon was asked by one of his students why so many people responded when Spurgeon preached, and no one responded to the student’s sermon. Spurgeon replied, “Surely, you don’t expect someone to respond every time you preach?” The student responded, “No sir, I certainly do not!” Spurgeon went on, “Young man, that is your problem.”
6. Pray, pray, and pray some more.
Bathe the entire sermon in prayer. Pray that lives will be changed. Pray for boldness and conviction as you call for a response.