07 Dec, 2015 Five keys to an effective evangelistic message
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Hi Pastor or Church Leader
One of the great privileges of being a pastor or key Church leader is that we get to speak on key occasions like Christmas and Easter, births and funerals, baptisms and weddings. On these occasions we have an audience that includes people beyond our regular congregation – and we get to represent the message of Christ to them. What is it that makes for an effective evangelistic message?
(1) Prayer and faith
There is no denying that there is a ‘mysterious’ element to preaching the gospel – or any message. The ‘mystery’ is, of course, the Holy Spirit’s anointing work. The gospel message is anointed all by itself – for it is the ‘power of God for salvation’ (Romans 1:16).
But it is also true that two preachers can preach the same message and yet get different results. While an anointing rests on God’s Word simply because it is God’s Word, there is an anointing that rests on a preacher too. When a preacher is prayed up and has faith for a harvest, it makes a difference.
Specifically, I believe a challenge for us is to believe for a harvest. God’s Spirit is working in peoples lives, even though we can’t see it. The Bible tells us God is willing that none should perish. It also tells us the harvest is ready for the picking. When we preach to a crowd I believe it is essential that (a) we believe there are people there who will need to hear the gospel message and (b) that, with God’s help, they will respond!
We have all had our discouragements. Our challenge is raise our faith afresh every time.
(2) Non-believers must be present
While this seems to state the obvious, an effective gospel message usually follows an effort to gather non-believers to hear the message – and usually that will be a team effort.
You see, when people attend your outreach service, they are not there because of you. They are there because someone else invited them- and you merely the mouth piece.
An effective outreach service or event thus involves a strategy of some kind to connect with people and gather a crowd.
God is the God of creativity. I believe that through prayer, with sincerity, God can give us his creativity to help us get non-believers through doors to hear the message!
When I arrived in my previous Church, our youth ministry use to get 5 to 10 new friends to any outreach. When we left we would get 40 – 60 every outreach, and sometimes over 100! There are skills involved in gathering a ‘crowd’ – and it makes us more effective.
(3) A certain content
Some preachers think that preaching about God’s love is the same as preaching the gospel. This is not so. The gospel has a specific content. My favourite summary of the gospel message is the four words: Creation – Fall – Redemption – Restoration.
- Creation – God created us and this world, and made them perfectly good.
- Fall – but we used the free will he gave us to go our own way. We did wrong, and this not only corrupted ourselves and this planet. It broke our relationship with God.
- Redemption – But God has done something about this for us – through Christ Jesus . His death on the cross was for our forgiveness, enabling our relationship with God to be restored.
- Restoration – …and his plan is to restore not only our relationship with God, but to restore all things. Until that day when Jesus returns we have a truly inspiring purpose to fulfill on earth.
I also believe that a clear communication of the gospel will include giving some evidences – to show that this is more than just a story. We see Peter doing this in Acts chapters 2 and 3. Evidences can include things like testimony of changed life, fulfilled prophecy, miracles we’ve seen, prayers that have been answered, or whatever else God brings to your mind.
(4) A connection with the audience
As communicators, it is our job and responsibility to communicate. So telling people the main points of the gospel is not enough. It needs translating into the language and culture of those listening (1 Corinthians 9:22).
Any good Christian communication will have a hook to gain the audiences attention, and will then take them through a meaningful content in an intersting way, before concluding with a clear call to action at the end.
Sometimes we preachers get into a rut. We develop communication habits that are not helpful to our cause. It takes humility to step back to evaluate our messages and to keep improving ourselves.
One of the best tools in communication is called humour. While entertainment is not our goal, an entertaining attitude is one of the best communication tools on the planet! Certainly if people enjoy listening to us, we’ll be more effective.
(5) A clear challenge and response opportunity
This is an area that some of us are maybe weak in, but a very important area.
While we don’t want to be emotionally manipulative there are also some important human realities to consider.
To give a couple of tips:
1. A response challenge needs to call people to just one thing, and clearly.
Our job is to draw a clear line with our words, so there can be no confusion about what people are responding to – or what we would like them to do to indicate they are responding.
2. Getting people to move physically does help people process the response challenge of a message
I’ve found that if we ask everyone to stand up before calling for a response, it helps to wake the congregation up a little – and it makes a difference. Again, the goal here isn’t definitely manipulation. It comes from an understanding that people get sleepy, and that our minds can wander.
3. Urging people toward a response is the correct thing to do.
As much as we don’t want to be misunderstood, or ever accused of being manipulative… it would be wrong of us not to urge hearers toward a response. In fact, even a non-believer would recognise us to be hypocritical if we do not. What sincere Christian would not urge those they love to receive the gift of eternal life?
Consider the perspective Charles Spurgeon had on this:
‘Preach, for instance, as you would plead if you were standing before a judge, begging for the life of a friend, or if you were appealing to the Queen herself on behalf of someone very dear to you. Use the kind of tone in pleading with sinners that you would use if a gallows were erected, and you were to be hanged on it unless you could persuade the person in authority to release you. That is the sort of earnestness you need in pleading with men as ambassadors for God.’
[“The Soul Winner” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Pg 94]
Sometimes we are too concerned of what people will think…
…and maybe not concerned enough about what our Lord would think,
…or not sincere enough in our pleading for men and women to respond to God.
Correctly understood, it is impossible to preach the gospel without passion and urgency.
To wrap up
So, ‘preach your heart out’, preacher! I hope these tips have helped.
May the Lord anoint your heart and lips so you can communicate God’s love and salvation with clarity, conviction and love!