I believe an invitation for people to respond to the preacher’s message should be given every time the Word is preached in a corporate gathering.
From personal observation and from what I’m reading lately, it seems to me that a growing number of pastors disagree with me. Here’s a recent blog that exemplifies this ongoing conversation. I think this is a good, healthy conversation.
To be clear, while I am advocating for consistent invitations, I’m not suggesting that pastors extend a heavy, evangelistic, “walk-the-aisle” invitation every service. Invitations can and should be about more than just conversion.
I’m also not suggesting that “come forward to the altar” invitations are the only acceptable method. Many churches use response cards effectively as a means of responding. Others invite people go to a designated area, like a welcome center or a prayer tent. Lots of churches dismiss the congregation and then have prayer counselors placed in various locations throughout the worship center to pray with people before they leave.
Many ways exist for people to respond other than the “come forward to the altar” method. But my argument is this – pastors should prepare every single public worship service and sermon with an invitation for people to receive Christ or draw closer to Him and His plan. This should be more than occasional and should certainly not be neglected or rejected. If life change is the point of our preaching and worship, then we ought to help them along on their next steps.
Here are seven reasons why I believe pastors should give consistent invitations:
- Because biblically speaking, God called people to make decisions about what to do with His word over and over in the Bible. Some messages are against sin and for God. In those moments I believe invitations are very helpful. Many messages are less dramatic, of course, but calling people to live obediently by faith and to receive His grace afresh is always a good call.
- Because the invitation is itself an opportunity for pastors to model for members how to have a humble, spiritual conversation with people. It transitions from teaching to specific application.
- Because when people respond it gives intercessors the opportunity to pray with people who need prayer now! People should be able to leave church prayed for, not just preached to.
- Because the response to the invitation gives shepherds/counselors an opportunity to care for people who need help.
- Because by preparing a message with an invitation to respond in mind, the preacher remembers to preach with clarity and for transformation.
- Because in our fast-paced, digital world people need some old-fashioned personal interaction. A call to respond in some way is a nudge in that direction.
- Lastly, because it’s rude not to give people the opportunity to taste and see that the Lord is good. For someone to come to church and hear a message about the glories of Christ and not be told how to experience His goodness is just bad form. If you invite someone over for dinner, you don’t invite them to smell, listen and look at the good food – you invite them to eat!