God hasn’t stopped calling people, so we must get back to the business of calling out those He has called to ministry.
By Shane Pruitt and Scott Pace
As pastors, we are well aware of the incredible need for more faithful men and women to serve the body of Christ. We’re pleading with the Lord of the harvest to raise up more laborers (Matthew 9:37-38). But we also believe those future laborers are in the harvest. They just need to be called out.
God hasn’t stopped calling people, so we must get back to the business of calling out those He has called to ministry. One of the greatest steps we can make is to return to regularly giving effective gospel invitations with integrity and to regularly include a specific time in those invitations for people to have a chance to surrender to the call of ministry on their lives. For some reason, we’ve gotten away from doing this in our local churches. Oh sure, you see it done at student summer camps, conferences, and special events. But we have neglected it in the local church for far too long. Now is the time to return.
However, because of the neglect of public gospel invitations over recent decades, many leaders don’t know how to give them anymore. So, here are five practical tips on how to give an effective gospel invitation that includes both calling out people to know Jesus and calling out those whom God is calling to ministry and missions.
1. Keep it fueled with prayer
Pray, pray, and pray some more. You are desperately in need of the Lord to speak through you in a way that pierces hearts. In many churches and events, there are hard hearts sitting and waiting to be broken by the Spirit. There are also hearts that are restless and running from the call of God on their lives to surrender to serving Him and His bride, the church.“Prayer is the fuel for every aspect of the preaching ministry.” — @shane_pruitt78 @rscott_pace Click To Tweet
Prayer is the fuel for every aspect of the preaching ministry. Only God can break those hardened hearts or surrender those hearts to His calling. Just as you should be covering your sermon or Bible study in prayer, so you should be covering your invitation time in prayer as well (Matthew 9:38).
2. Keep it biblical
Every Scripture is intended to be preached in the light of the gospel. Every Bible communicator should have expectations of themselves to deliver the gospel every week and call people to respond to it. Most likely, every time you preach, there will be people in the crowd who are spiritually lost, others who know Jesus but need to take the next step of obedience like baptism, joining the church, or repenting of sin, and still others who need to surrender to the calling of God on their lives for ministry and missions.
Be sure to tell them how they can be found if they need to be saved as well as how to surrender if they are being called. Especially in these times of hopelessness, people are looking for hope. And we know hope has a name—Jesus. If you want people to take seriously the challenge of inviting their spiritually lost friends and family to church, then you must take sharing the gospel seriously. And make a point to let people know on a regular basis that giving their life away to making disciples is the most important thing they can do with their lives. Then, give them a chance to be obedient to that call.“Every Scripture is intended to be preached in the light of the gospel.” — @shane_pruitt78 @rscott_pace Click To Tweet
3. Keep it short
The invitation to respond to the gospel or to be called out should be short and concise. Get to the point of what you’re asking them to do and get there quickly. Our default as communicators is often to ramble when we’re short on confidence. The longer we talk about responding, the more confusing we become. One of the best ways to get better at this is preparation.
Spend time preparing for the invitation just as you do for your sermons, messages, or Bible studies. Surely you’d never get up to preach or teach completely unprepared or with no direction of what you’re going to say. Obviously, don’t do that with your invitations either. Just as you already know where you’re going in your sermon, you need to know where you’re going in your invitation. Every second is valuable. Use each one wisely.
4. Keep it understandable
Be clear in what you’re asking them to do. Whether you’re calling people to repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus for salvation, calling people to be baptized, or calling out those whom God has called to ministry, be clear. If what you say is confusing, you will cause confusion in how to respond.
Can the teenagers in the room clearly understand what you’re asking them to do? Nothing stops people from action faster than confusion. Not too long ago, I saw a sign at an airport that read, “Moving Propellers Rip Off Heads.” That message was clear. It definitely caused me to respond and take action by looking for moving propellers.
5. Keep it moving to the next step
Every gospel proclamation has three responses: surrender, rejection, or a request to hear more. You see all those different responses to Paul’s preaching in Athens at the end of Acts 17. For two out of three of those responses, there should be a biblical, short, and understandable way to move to a next step of surrendering to Jesus by hearing more of what that looks like, whether that is a call to salvation or a call to ministry.
The method doesn’t matter nearly as much as asking people to respond with faith to the gospel message they just heard or in obedience to being a leader to equip others to know Jesus and make Him known. It is imperative, however, that there is a plan for immediate follow-up. Few things are worse than someone surrendering to Jesus or to a call of ministry and no one following up with them.“Few things are worse than someone surrendering to Jesus or to a call of ministry and no one following up with them.” — @shane_pruitt78 @rscott_pace Click To Tweet
George Whitefield famously once said, “Others may preach the gospel better than I, but no one can preach a better gospel.” It is still true today. Others may be better at presenting the gospel, but no one can present a better gospel. Others may be better at calling out the called than you, but no one has a better calling than you. It is one Spirit, one gospel, one church, and one calling.
The future workers for the harvest are currently in the harvest waiting to be called out, waiting to be empowered, and waiting to be equipped. So go and call out the called!
Shane is the National Next Gen Director for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the author of 9 Common Lies Christians Believe and Calling Out the Called.
Scott serves as the Vice President of Undergraduate Studies, Dean of The College at Southeastern, and Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of Calling Out the Called.
Excerpted with permission from Calling Out the Called by Shane Pruitt and Scott Pace. Copyright 2022, B&H Publishing.
For permission to republish this article, please email Marissa Postell Sullivan.