For a long time I’ve wondered if there is a relationship between the number of salvations a church experiences, and the number of times it offers salvation invitations. We’ll never know for sure, but I’m conducting an experiment this year.
My friend Ron Forseth (long-time overseer of SermonCentral.com) recently challenged me to offer an invitation every Sunday for an entire year. For the past 25 years, my habit has been to present a salvation invitation about once a month in our church services, but I’ve often wondered, “If we offered salvation more often, would more people come to Jesus?” So I’m taking The Weekly Gospel Challenge.
Results So Far
I started my experiment on the July 3 weekend. One lady raised her hand in the Saturday night service. So cool! The next we hosted a high-profile guest for what we call a Wow Weekend. Lots of visitors were present. 32 raised their hands for salvation. The next weekend (July 17), 12 hands went up. Last weekend (July 24), 5 more indicated they had prayed to receive Christ with me. There’s no way to know for sure how many of these decisions will bear out as “seed that fell on good soil” (Matthew 13:8). But some God-honoring intention motivated each one of those people to raise their hands.
Without Ron’s challenge, I probably would have given invitations 2 out of those 4 weekends. God is sovereign, so He certainly could have saved all those people without my invitation. Yet I believe that my faithfulness to proclaim the gospel made a difference, so I’m going to continue this every-Sunday habit for the next 52 weeks and see what happens. Would you like to take the challenge with me?
The Weekly Gospel Challenge
I’m teaming up with Greg Laurie, Derwin Gray, Dean Hawk and others to present the gospel every Sunday for 52 consecutive weeks in the hopes of seeing more salvations in our churches. We’re calling it The Weekly Gospel Challenge.
Jesus honored, Heaven enlarged
Jesus is honored every time His story is told. Imagine if 10,000 pastors presented gospel invitations 52 weeks in a row. That would be 520,000 tellings of Jesus’ story in one year. That would be a lot of honor! And if 2 people received Christ at each of those invitations, over a million souls would enter into relationship with the Savior. Wow!
Five Reasons I Haven't Given an Invitation Every Sunday
There are several reasons not to share the gospel every Sunday. One is time. Another is relevance. A third is a desire not to scare “investigators” away. A fourth is, a lack of lost people in the audience. And a fifth, your believers may get impatient with you spending so much time on an invitation each week. All of these have kept me from sharing the gospel. But in the back of my mind, I think I have a counter to each of them.
1. There is not enough time in the service.
Every preacher wants to be sensitive to the time constraints of the audience. And in churches with multiple services, you have to finish on time in order to exit one group and get the next group in the auditorium. So sometimes I think, “I don’t have time to share the gospel today.” But yesterday, my entire invitation was this, “If you’ve never opened your life to Jesus Christ before, and want to today, pray these words after me.” The entire invitation and prayer took less than a minute, and FIVE people responded to it. (I had a team ready to follow-up with each one, so no one left with a shallow understanding.)
2. The topic of the day doesn’t relate to the gospel.
I’ve used this logic many times, but really? The transforming power of Jesus is relevant to every need, every topic and every person, everyday! I find that if I try, I can always turn my subject to Jesus and His love and invitation to life.
3. An invitation every week could turn “investigators” off.
I’ve thought this. But I don’t really believe it. Sure, a long, drawn-out, and perhaps heavy-handed invitation could turn anyone (including believers) off. But an invitation to the good news of Jesus doesn’t have to be heavy, and it shouldn’t involve arm-twisting. The gospel is good news. Who doesn’t want to hear good news every time they come to church?
4. Why present an invitation if there are no lost people in the room?
This is a good point. But what if there are no lost people in the room because your members think they have no reason to invite their lost friends? What if presenting the gospel 4 or 5 weeks in a row causes a mind shift in your members, so they begin thinking, “If I invite my friend to come this weekend, he will hear the gospel, and his eternity might be changed?” It’s possible that sharing the gospel will breed more lost people being invited to church.
5. Believers will get impatient if I take time in every service for something they’ve already heard.
This has not been my experience. Every sincere believer I know is cheering with me every time I present the gospel. They’re praying that someone will respond, and they’re waiting to clap and cheer when I invite them to celebrate the new life that’s been born in the service. In my 24 years at New Song, I have never had a Christian say, “You should share the gospel less.”
What if it works?
I am praying that my increased emphasis on salvation in our services will result in an increased harvest for heaven. In fact, the upside of taking The Weekly Gospel Challenge is so great, I can’t really think of a downside. Will you join me?