“You sounded like a whiney little girl.” That’s what my youth minister told me after my first evangelistic sermon. Tough love. I’m still no expert, but thankfully I’ve learnt a bit from the experience.
It’s worth saying that ‘finishing well’ is incredibly important. I was recently invited to speak at an event in which one of the organisers wrote the following words to me about the appeal:
Don’t pull punches with this section. I don’t really care if it’s weird, this is eternity at stake for some of these kids. We’ve put a heck of a lot of effort into promoting and running this night, and it’s all to see people changed by the gospel. I don’t care if this bit goes a bit long, or seems a bit weird – make the most of the opportunity.2 Cor 5:20 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
Firstly, what a legend! But secondly, he’s right. Our job is to implore people on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God. Go hard, be bold and invite people to take the ‘next step’.
That being said, it’s unlikely that the ‘next step’ will be the same for everyone in the audience. It varies depending on where people are at. As far as I can tell, there are probably four different groups in any audience:
Solid– these guys are Christians. They’re serving God and they’re trusting in Jesus. They don’t need to get re-saved every talk, they just need encouragement to keep doing what they’re doing and tell their friends about it.
Struggling– these guys are Christians but they’re doing it tough. Maybe they’ve wandered, maybe there’s stuff they’re doing that they know they shouldn’t be, or maybe they want to recommit their lives to Jesus. They need an opportunity to do just that. Pray for them. Ask God to assure them of his love and fill them with a new desire to start living for him.
Starting– these guys want to become Christians. Yeow! They understand that they’re sinful, they’ve counted the cost, and they want to put their trust in Jesus. Remind them of the Gospel, lead them in a “Sorry, Thank You, Please” prayer, and invite them to echo it in their hearts before God.
Still Thinking– these guys aren’t ready to put their faith in Jesus just yet. Thank them for their time, encourage them to get their questions answered, and suggest that you will continue to pray that in God’s timing he might bring them to a place where they’re ready to trust in Jesus.
I recently articulated these categories to an audience, and invited those in categories 2 & 3 to stand. I won’t do it this way every time, but I think it was helpful for the moment.
Question: How else might you finish an evangelistic talk? I’d love some ideas for next time. Leave a comment by clicking here.