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Jesus in the Pulpit: Decision Time
by Tom Goodman
March 10, 2005
Note: LeaderLines will not be published next week while I am away with the youth in Acuna, Mexico. — Tom
As my leadership partners, it’s important that you understand what I’m trying to do in the pulpit. If folks in our church have questions or criticisms of our services, they will share them with you more often than with me. You’ll want to
have an answer for those you lead and influence. I’m taking five editions of LeaderLines to look at the things I’m trying to imitate from Christ’s style of preaching:
o He was a topical preacher
o He was relevant
o He told jokes and stories
o He welcomed seekers
o He called for a decision
We’ve already looked at the first four. Today, let’s look at Christ’s call for a decision from his listeners.
A speaker at a pastor’s conference said that when he was a young man sitting in the pews listening to sermons, he used to get frustrated and write “YBH!” in his church bulletin and show it to his wife. It was his code for “Yes, But How! Yes, what you’re saying is true but how do I put it into practice? What should I do?” People need to be told the clear steps of response to take, and they need someone to persuade them to take those steps.
Jesus always made clear what people were supposed to do about his teaching. It was as if an R.S.V.P. ended every conversation he had:
o “Go, show yourself to the priest.”
o “Go back to your own family and tell them what the Lord has done for you.”
o “Go, sell all you have and follow me.”
o “Go into all the world and make them my disciples.”
It’s a natural extension of the earlier points: Because he was a topical, “life application” preacher, and because he was relevant and practical, he was always interested in letting people know the actions they should take.
I try to copy this feature of Christ’s preaching in two ways. First, I try to phrase the points of my message as action steps. Take a look at your sermon notes this week and you’ll find strong active verbs in the main points of the message.
Second, I try to conclude my time by clearly explaining what someone needs to do if they want to take the next step in their relationship with Christ. I occasionally lead a “come forward” invitation that most of us have seen every Sunday for decades. There are other ways to give an invitation, however. One Sunday, I led people in a prayer for salvation in the middle of my sermon and then asked people to stand if they prayed that prayer. Nine did! Usually, I’ll guide people in filling out the pew card and dropping it in the offering plate. This is very effective! Two weeks ago, the cards revealed four people had made a profession of faith, nine people had rededicated their lives, and five people expressed an interest in joining the church. As Hillcrest leaders, you need to be in prayer while I explain the use of these cards each week! Despite the fact that it seems casual, some eternally significant things are happening.
I hope it’s been helpful for you to read this LeaderLines series on Christ’s preaching. Pray for me as I prepare messages for Hillcresters, and for THEMs that Hillcresters bring!
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