The sermon is
ready. You have studied the text. Illustrations are in
place. Your introduction will lead the congregation
right into the truth God has placed on your heart for
this Sunday. But is your preparation really complete?
What about the invitation? How will you transition from
the conclusion of your sermon into the time of
commitment? Here are a few tips that may be helpful.
Prepare spiritually.— God is surely
dealing with someone who will hear your sermon.
Certainly you will seek His guidance concerning the
message. It is just as important to pray and seek His
leadership about how the commitment opportunity will be
Make the invitation clear.—
Assume that people will be present who do not understand
our Christian language. Even a child who is familiar
with church talk may not really understand it. In fact,
adults who have heard religious terms all their lives
will find it easier to respond when clear,
understandable language is used.
what they must know.— Near the conclusion of
the message, restate the essential facts people must
have to make an informed decision. If the message is
evangelistic, state the essentials of salvation.
Tell people what action they should take.—
If you want people to come forward during the singing of
the invitation hymn and tell you about their decision or
commitment, tell them so. Sometimes this is not as clear
as we preachers think. For example, if the
instrumentalists are playing softly, the newcomer may
not know whether to come during this soft music or to
wait for the choir to sing again. Tell them what they
should say if they come forward and "take you by the
hand." Be specific.
Tell people what will
happen when they come forward.— Present your
invitation as if you were preaching to people who have
never before been in a church service. If you or someone
will pray with them at the altar, tell them so. If you
will briefly greet them and someone else will take them
to an inquiry room (be careful about using the terms
counseling or counselor), tell them.
invitation boldly.— Expect a response to the
invitation. You are inviting people to Christ. You are
inviting people to a renewed commitment to Him or to
meaningful participation in His church. Clarify in your
own thinking the invitation you are giving, then give it
without hesitation or apology.
people to expect and understand the invitation.—
A public invitation to respond to Jesus is foreign to
many who will hear your message. Make clear statements
well in advance of actually offering the invitation.
Consider a word of explanation in the bulletin or
Use music appropriately during
the invitation.— Use familiar hymns. This is
not the time to learn a new text or tune. If choir or
soloists are used, be sure it is done in a way that does
not draw attention to the person or persons singing.
Prearrange signals for quick, clear communication
between you and the minister of music.
people to pray at the altar.— Invite your
people to come forward for prayer during the invitation.
Unless you use an inquiry room, consider praying at the
altar with those who come forward. If you use the altar,
others will feel more free to pray there. (If you are a
single staff pastor, be sure someone else is available
to receive those who come forward while you are praying
at the altar.)
Personalize the invitation.—
People come to Christ one at a time. Speak as if you
were speaking to one person about Jesus. Ask the
audience to listen as though you were speaking directly
and exclusively to them.
(Adapted from Wayne
Bristow, Invitation to Christ (Nashville: Convention