I just got back from Urbana with 16,000 others and my final reflection is about great evangelistic preaching.
Ram Sridharan, an Area Director in Ohio, gave a great evangelistic message and call to follow Jesus where hundreds responded to the gospel. Here are four things that I loved about the talk and I think are key ingredients to all great evangelistic talks.
In this talk Ram is very passionate and flamboyant with his mannerisms and hand gestures. It was one of the best talks I have seen as far as use of hands and body motions. Ram’s whole person was in this talk and you could see and feel the passion coming from him. I think all great evangelistic talks have a strong compelling nature to them and this talk grabbed me and sucked me in.
Ram did an excellent job preaching the gospel from start to finish. He was very clear about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and how it intersects with our life. He had great clarity with stories, analogies and scripture that helped us see that we are dead, and life is found in Chirst alone. I cannot tell you how many talks I have heard where a call to faith was given, but the talk did a horrible job presenting the gospel. I have also seen countless talks where the gospel is clear and there is not a strong call to commitment in the moment. Ram did both of these things well. Here are three things he said that really were powerful:
“When we act like God is dead it is not he who dies but us.”
“The Father shows the son that the wild party the son always longed for was found right in the fathers house.”
“Jesus relives our death-ward journey and reverses it to life”
This is similar to passion and could be confused, but it is quite different. Conviction is what causes you to realize your sin, the need for a savior, and the ability to turn to God. Of course conviction cannot come with out the Holy Spirit, but we can do some things in our communication to highlight the conviction of the Holy Spirit to the audience. One thing that Ram did really well that helped bring conviction was his PACE. Ram talked fast, intensly and barely gave us a break. He would jab us with great one-liners, compel us with great story, and then just when you think he would come up for air, he kept driving. As the talk went on, the Holy Spirit started grabbing people and one reason is because Ram did a fantastic job with his pace and drove the gospel into our lives throughout the talk. Conviction was beaming out of him.
Clear Call to Commitment
Ram made a clear call to faith in Christ. He made it plain to us what the life, death, and resurrection of Christ did and does for us, and then he made it really clear how to respond. He warned us a couple times in the middle of the talk that a call to commitment was coming (that is a great way for a preacher to warm an audience up for the end call) and then he made a simple call to stand and follow. Most importantly, he let us sit in the moment and gave us a chance to stand up, and crack our glow stick signifying new life in Christ. He just did a great job calling us strongly to follow Jesus and then gave us proper space to do so.
Great evangelistic preaching that calls for committment to christ is sorely missing today in the church, and very much so even in the missional church. It is a skill and gift from God that is needed and when used properly can bring droves a people to christ under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Great Evangelistic Preachers know how to bring us into kairos moments with Christ and compel us to repent while there.
Props to Ram for demonstrating to us what this looks like again!
Is there anything else you would add to the list of great qualities of evangelistic preaching? Anything else you see specifically in Ram’s Talk?