Evangelistic Preaching for Today -- By: John Blanchard
RAR 2:3 (Summer 1993) p. 13
Evangelistic Preaching for Today
No serious-minded preacher can fail to be concerned at the lack of impact evangelistic preaching is having in our day and age. For all our conferences, fraternals, courses, literature, study and effort, the net result is so much less than we would like. A mountain has labored and brought forth a mouse. Is this not a simple, sobering fact? If you are reading these words as a preacher, seek to give honest answers to these questions: How many people do you know of who were converted under your ministry in the last year? How many others have had their lives radically transformed? And how do these results relate to the amount of time and effort you have put into your preparation and preaching? You would be less than human if you were not concerned at how little there is to show. You might even be inclined to be depressed, especially when you hear of results elsewhere.
But we need to take a cooler look at the situation. If things are not what they ought to be, they are certainly not what they seem to be. There is a great difference between the headline and the bottom line. When Billy Graham held his “Mission England” a few years ago, one of his team said that the results in the West Country alone exceeded anything seen in the days of Wesley and Whitefield. Another spokesman said there had been 100,000 conversions. A year later, when Billy Graham returned for a week’s preaching in the city of Sheffield, reports reaching the United States while I was there prompted someone to suggest to me that “England must be on fire from end to end.” No right-minded assessment would now give any credence to either of these claims.
By the same token, extraordinary claims are sometimes made in charismatic circles—healings, exorcisms, conversions, fillings or baptisms in, with or by the Holy Spirit, prophecies, miracles, words of wisdom or knowledge, and other exciting exotica. It all sounds very exhilarating, but
RAR 2:3 (Summer 1993) p. 14
where are the lasting results? Nor are arresting claims limited to charismatic circles. I know of other churches in the United States who claim to have added one hundred members a year for the last ten years, yet are no bigger now than they were then. But statistics are addictive, and the machine must be fed. When results were declining in a well-known megachurch letters were sent to 200 key men in the congregation instructing them to make an open response to the invitation on designated Sundays and to make some kind of decision that could be registered in the church records. At a well-known Bible Institute students were told, “Your credibility as a pastor will depend entirely on what you make happen during the invitation.” This is the ...
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