As I shared last week, over the past two Sunday evenings our congregation hosted evangelistic services we called Stories of Hope. Last night we had another encouraging service where the gospel was clearly proclaimed.
Normally our evening services are focused more on the edification of the saints than evangelism of unbelievers. After all, the ultimate purpose of worship is for God's people to glorify him, not primarily for evangelism to be pursued. The seeker sensitive services of this past generation are fraught with error in centering the whole of the service around unbelievers, compromising tenets of the gospel such as avoiding speaking of sin so as not to offend, and removing Biblical standards for worship.
However, congregations should desire that unbelievers would walk into their assemblies and declare that "God is really among you" (1 Cor. 14:25). To invite others to join God's people in a worship assembly where the gospel is proclaimed more intentionally is far different than a service where sin is not mentioned. I have seen that to encourage a congregation to pray for and invite friends and neighbors to church to hear the gospel for a special season has developed their heart for the lost, enthused people and especially the youth to be more bold in their witness throughout the week, and given congregations a greater appreciation for the gospel that we can too easily take for granted.
In the context of instructing on preaching in worship, the Westminister Larger Catechism reminds us in Q. 159 how the Word of God is to be preached.
They that are called to labour in the ministry of the Word, are to preach sound doctrine, diligently, in season and out of season; plainly, not in the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; faithfully, making known the whole counsel of God; wisely, applying themselves to the necessities and capacities of the hearers; zealously, with fervent love to God and the souls of his people; sincerely, aiming at his glory, and their conversion, edification, and salvation.
As that last phrase reminds us, part of the duty of the preacher is the conversion of his hearers. The preacher should aim for this any time he preaches, but especially so when unbelievers are known to be present. To hear a wonderful example of evangelistic preaching, listen to Pastor Will Baker's second message below, which was linked to the first one textually and thematically. We also were blessed as Adrian Wright gave his testimony of God's grace in his life. He talked about being taught about the Bible as a young boy growing up in Boston. He encouraged the audience with three things that give him hope -- God's design in the natural world, God's great gift of grace, and God's faithfulness in keeping promises.
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