There’s been a welcome resurgence of expository preaching in the Reformed church over the last 20-30 years, and especially of “consecutive expository preaching” – preaching through books of the Bible, verse-by-verse and chapter-by-chapter. But together with that resurgence of consecutive expository preaching, there has also come a decline in what I would call “converting evangelistic preaching.”

What do I mean by “converting evangelistic preaching”? Let me give two negatives to begin with. I don’t mean teaching sermons with an evangelistic PS; a doctrinal sermon with a brief concluding appeal or call to the unconverted to seek Christ, believe in Christ, look to Christ, etc.

Neither, at the other extreme, do I mean content-less sermons made up simply of repeated evangelistic imperatives, commands, invitations, and exhortations; sermons that have nothing for the head but are all addressed to the heart or will.

What do I mean, then, by evangelistic preaching? Let me put it positively; evangelistic preaching expounds God’s Word (it is expository) with the primary aim being the salvation of lost souls (rather than the instruction of God’s people). Stuart Olyott says it is to “preach from the Bible with the immediate aim of the immediate conversion of every soul in front of us.”

So, what really distinguishes evangelistic preaching from all other kinds of preaching is its obvious and unmistakable aim – conversion. Its target is unconverted hearers. And its conscious and deliberate aim is to call, invite, and command needy souls to repent and believe the Gospel.  It’s this kind of preaching that has become increasingly rare in many Reformed Churches.

I’d like to look at this subject from four angles over the next few days. First, I’d like to examine the rarity of evangelistic preaching (as defined above): Why is it so rare? Then I will propose reasons in favor of it: Why should we engage in evangelistic preaching? Next I will survey the range of evangelistic preaching: the different kinds of sermons that come under this heading. And, finally, I will look at the results: What does evangelistic preaching look like and sound like?

  • Carine

    I’m keenly looking forward to hear more about this, for evangelistic preaching from a Reformed pulpit seems to be a real scarcity where we come from.Perhaps some ministers regard every one in their congregation to be saved and thus not in “need” of such sermons?

  • Anonymous

    Shawn this is very good use of the FaceBook. Lookin forward to feeding my soul with your exposition.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. What do you think, should each sermon be a ‘converting, evangelistic’ sermon? or, should there be, for example, one type in the a.m. and another type in the p.m.? I really appreciate your use of FaceBook!

  • Anonymous

    Agree. Thank you.

  • David Murray

    Carine, I agree with your fear that many presume everyone in their congregation is saved. Chris, I think I’ve maybe answered your question in subsequent posts. Thanks for your encouragement.