The Importance of the Public Invitation

Posted: February 9, 2012 in Baptism, Bible, Church, Discipleship, Evangelism, Pastor, Pastoral Ministry, Preaching

The most important part of our service comes near the end – the invitation. Each week, I am praying and preparing my message so I can call the people to respond to the Word of God during an invitation time. Every time the message is proclaimed, the hearers respond – sometimes privately, sometimes publicly. Each time I preach on Sundays, I include a public opportunity to respond to the challenge given. I include a call for believers to respond by coming to the steps to kneel in prayer. The Lord may urge an individual to renew his or her commitment to Christ. I always include a call for individuals to come to Christ for salvation.

Public invitations have influenced my own life. I can pray and commune with God anywhere and at any time, yet I have enjoyed profound prayer times and commitment times by going down to the front of the auditorium during the invitation time. A private decision is significant, but I have experienced public decisions where resolve is added to my decision—as well as accountability, encouragement and prayer from the congregation. I have even been challenged and encouraged in my faith by seeing the public decisions of others. When the Lord called me to preach in 1981, I made a public decision the next Sunday morning so that my church family could pray for me and Gayla as we prepared for the next steps in our lives.

Prayer empowers the invitation time. Believers should pray for the invitation, not only during the service, but also through the week before Sunday. Those in the congregation can help minimize the distractions during this key time in the service by not leaving early. Pray that God will do His work of grace that only He can do.

Whenever I preach, I will continue to give public invitations and will earnestly pray for the invitation as I prepare to preach. I preach with an expectation that people will respond to the preaching of God’s Word. As you pray with me today and during the week, here are matters for your consideration. “How much reflection do I do during the commitment time?” “What kind of response do I need to make in my heart, in my mind, and with my actions to God and His Word?” “Am I aware of the corporate aspect of the invitation, and do I pray for the responsiveness to others?”

Since the beginning of the year, we have focused our attention on praying for revival and spiritual awakening – both individually and corporately. Please continue to do so. While we cannot work up a move of God in our midst, His Word calls on us to “do what we can and let God do the rest” (quoted from Dr. Rod Mastellar, past president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention).

I believe in the work of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God to move upon an individual. However, offering an invitation for a time of commitment is just as important as passing the offering plate instead of waiting for people to initiate contact about tithing. I know in my own life that a part of responding to God’s call was the challenge and expectation of my church that God was calling people into ministry. In its essence, evangelism means “to proclaim.” As I proclaim the holiness, righteousness, love, and grace of God, I cannot imagine not also calling and compelling men, women, boys, and girls to repent and follow Jesus! I believe we all agree that we need to call people to repentance. The issue is not if, but how we call them to respond publicly that leads to the biblical response to a profession of faith and baptism.

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