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Pastors encourages to 'refocus' on evangelistic sermons


LOUISVILLE—Something must be done to reverse of the steep decline in baptisms within Southern Baptist Convention churches in America since 2000, the evangelism director for the North American Mission Board, Joel Southerland, encouraged attenders at Refocus: Evangelistic Preaching and Invitations.

The Refocus event, hosted and organized by the Kentucky Baptist Convention's evangelism department, was held in six different locations across the state, including, Owensboro, Paducah, Louisville, Elizabethtown, Pikeville, and Manchester, from Aug. 20-23.

Joel Southerland shares with a group of Louisville-area pastors the importance of evangelistic sermons.

"Something is wrong in the pulpit of our SBC churches," Southerland, also pastor of Peavine Baptist Church in Rock Creek, Ga., said. "The reason many of our members are not engaging their culture with the Gospel is because they do not see their pastor engaging the congregation with the Gospel on a week-in, week-out basis."

Southerland thinks the key to changing this trend is evangelistic sermons, as well as invitations.

He shared six things to avoid in an evangelistic sermon, including: "don't assume listeners know anything about the Bible," and "don't love the sermon more than the sinner."

In contrast, he encouraged pastors to use humor, preach sermons that were 30 minutes or less, and to "preach to construction workers, not preachers."

Southerland emphasized bathing the sermon in prayer and always calling for a decision.

"Every sermon can be turned into an evangelistic sermon," he added.

Southerland also walked attenders through effective tips for an evangelistic invitation, including putting "yourself in a lost person's shoes and seat," and viewing an invitation as a "way to start a conversation."

He also emphasized that there are different types of invitations, and the occasion must dictate which type the pastor uses.

In a discussion at the end of the Louisville session, participants said they specifically were challenged to "start thinking again" about these types of sermons and to not take for granted the fact that many people sitting in their Sunday services are terrified to be there. They were also reminded that "we all can stand room for improvement."

For more information on similar KBC events, visit kybaptist.org. Video recordings of this training will be posted soon. (WR)

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