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Spot the difference

Mention evangelistic preaching and many people think still of someone like Billy Graham.  With his recent death there have been many stories about him told.  My favourite Billy Graham story is one I read by him a while ago.

He was visiting a small American town in his early ministry days for a mission.  During the day he went into the town to go to the post office.  He had to ask a young boy where it was.  After the boy told him, Billy of course took the opportunity to say “Thanks – come to the church tonight and I will tell you the way to heaven.”

The boy paused and then said “No thanks.  You didn’t even know the way to the Post Office.”

Recently I discussed with a group of preachers about the difference between pastoral preaching and evangelistic preaching.  What do you think – are they the same, similar or separate?

Some of the differences we discussed were:

  • Life links at the start – people not used to church might not show the same generosity to listen as people who do, or even have an animosity to preaching.  We need to link relevant life issues and questions to peoples’ lives and then to God’s life.
  • Head and Heart reasons – people not used to church won’t take the points we make as stated, they will need reasons to consider before believing.  Reasons should be aimed at the head and heart as different people consider things differently.
  • Heard – we can’t assume people will understand Christian or church words and phrases at all.  Even down to referring to “John 3 verse 16” – who’s John, what verse of what song etc.  It is no problem to use words like salvation, justification, incarnation – we just need to explain them.
  • Offer a decision – as preaching professor guru Haddon Robinson once said, evangelistic preaching is different because the purpose is clear: “to bring people to a point of decision.”

Have a look at Acts 17 v 22 – 33 and see what you think.

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