What About an Appeal?
Personally, I think just about every sermon should end in an appeal. But what should the appeal entail. I would suggest that the appeal have a three-fold focus.
Accept the Message
One component of the appeal is to accept the message. If we follow Henry Mitchell’s idea of a behavioral purpose to the sermon then this appeal would be to have people resolve to fulfill the behavioral purpose by God’s grace. If the preacher’s purpose was to encourage the hurting to see the vision of God in their lives, then the appeal should ask the congregation to experience the joy of living into God’s vision. One retired preacher told me that every sermon should give the people a chance to respond to the message given. He was talking about this dimension of the appeal.
Accept God through Jesus Christ
We are Christians so we must have a call to accept God through Jesus Christ. There may be someone in the congregation who needs to accept Jesus as their savior on this day. The preacher should always extend the invitation to accept Jesus. This may be people who have never accepted Jesus, or they have fallen away and want to get back in good relation with Jesus. Some preachers say that every sermon should give people this chance. I would tend to agree. If our message includes a strong Christocentric focus, there will be a connection of this appeal to our message. While the first appeal is largely ethical (how are we to live), this one is about being moved into right relationship with God.
Join This Church
Finally, there are some who may want to join this particular church. Many churches have people who are on the outside but attend every week. These people need to be asked to come in. God never asked us to be lone ranger Christians. In fact the Bible says that we are to not neglect the assembling of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:25). Here you call for those who are unchurched to join this particular church. In addition, there are some who feel the call of God to join your fellowship, no fear of â€œproselytizingâ€ should keep you from asking them to come and obey God who is telling them to join this particular church. The church is far from perfect, but God has called us together and if we are obedient, we will be in connection to a community of believers. Here the preacher is calling for people to obey that command.
Preaching should have a “behavioral purpose.” If you have one, then you should ask for a response from the people. This response is threefold. A strong appeal will include all of them.