5 Keys to an Effective Invitation with Andy McGowan
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

The Greg Stier Youth ministry Podcast

episode 32 | January 2024

5 keys to an effective invitation with andy Mcgowan

Are your Gospel invitations effective?

In this podcast episode, Andy McGowan and Greg Stier emphasize the critical importance of systematically incorporating the Gospel message into every aspect of church services, particularly in youth ministry. Andy shares a personal experience highlighting the consequences of neglecting to present the Gospel consistently, underscoring the need for intentional planning and a dedicated prayer team. Both speakers stress that the Gospel should permeate the entire sermon, not just be a one-time element, and address the challenge of maintaining this focus amid potential distractions. They acknowledge the risk of some individuals growing bored with the consistent presentation of the Gospel but emphasize the necessity of persevering in this effort. Despite potential losses, the speakers prioritize those receptive to the Gospel, advocating for being an “evangelist church” by consistently obeying the Great Commission.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

0:00:00.0 Greg Stier: Okay, today I’m gonna talk to you about five keys to an effective invitation. Now, I am an evangelist. I’ve had the privilege of preaching to literally millions of people across the United States, some around the world, and I mean, traveled with Winter Jam, traveled with Promise Keepers on tour. Done Dare 2 Share conferences and simulcast for 30 plus years. Spoken at retreats and camps, big events, small events. One of the things I’ve always done is give the gospel clearly during my sermon and give an invitation some way for people to respond and say yes to Jesus Christ. So today we’re gonna talk about how to do that because it really is my worst nightmare to hear someone give the gospel and not give it clearly. My second worst nightmare is to hear someone give the gospel and then fumble at the invitation because I’m thinking of the lost people in that church auditorium in that youth room.

 

0:01:08.1 GS: And I want them to be able to hear that gospel message as clearly as possible. And I made it a determination of my life. And I don’t want anybody to sit through a Greg Stier sermon at a church or in a youth group or at an event and not have that gospel clearly presented to them. So I’m gonna talk to you today about five keys to have an effective invitation. And this has kind of been developed over the years. I was raised in a church where the gospel was given, and every Sunday morning sermon, Thursday night during youth group, the gospel was given. Clearly invitations were given, and I remember it just as a regular rhythm, people coming to Christ because the gospel was given consistently. And people therefore would bring their friends, ’cause they knew anytime they would come, the gospel would be given clearly.

 

0:02:01.2 GS: And so, as I kind of prepared for this, I thought, well, I guess there is, there’s not a process I go through officially, I think it’s been intuitively because I’ve done it for so long, but over the last few weeks, I’ve taken some time to really say, okay, there is a process in there. And just kind of dig it out and raise it up and say, what are those five keys to giving an effective invitation? Well, we’re gonna start with the first one, and the most important is prayer. And I don’t wanna discount that. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer during your gospel presentation and invitation. The last thing I do before I go up to preach is I tie my shoes and I ask God, God, fill me with your spirit. And Lord, bring in the lost. They don’t know your son, Lord, save the lost and send the saved and use this sermon in a powerful way. One of the things I often do too, is before I preach, I send out a tweet. Maybe you’ve read some of those, like I’m about to preach.

 

0:02:58.8 GS: Please pray that the lost will be saved and the saved will be sent because I want people praying for the lost and for the believers. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer during your gospel presentation and invitation. Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1-4, I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good. And pleases God our savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth, God wants all people to be saved, including the ones that visit your church, who visit your youth group. He wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. That’s why we pray to him, because it is God who saves.

 

0:03:50.4 GS: As someone once said, before we talk to people about God, we should talk to God about people. So we start, our invitation starts with intercession. I love what Leslie Bennett, wrote about Charles Spurgeon, who I love, Charles Spurgeon. Man, this great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, the great English pastor of the 18th century, is commonly honored as the Prince of preachers, rightfully so. But Mr. Spurgeon was among the first to give credit where credit is due. He considered the faithful praying members of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle to be the powerhouse of this church. The engine room, as he called it, was the church basement where people gathered on their knees asking the Lord for his blessing. According to Spurgeon, the prayer meeting was the spiritual thermometer of the church, as in his words, souls stormed the celestial city with a might of their intercession. Oh man, it gives me chills.

0:04:48.7 GS: Spurgeon said this as well, if the engine room is out of action, then the whole mill will grind to a halt. We cannot expect blessing if we do not ask. We need to ask God to save the lost and send the saved and help the believers mature in Christ. So how’s the engine room of your church, of your youth group? Are you praying for the lost to be saved? Are you praying for the saved to be sent? Are you praying for the spiritual maturity of your teenagers, your adults? Do you have your people praying? You know, when I toured with Promise Keepers, for those of you don’t know, it was a major, major men’s movement in the ’90s and early 2000s, man, they would have a team of intercessors. So before you went out to preach, you’d go to the intercession room, and they were a little wild but they would just pray over you.

 

0:05:41.3 GS: And while you preached, the intercessors were praying. It gave me great confidence as a preacher at Promise Keepers that as I’m preaching to 10,000 men. I got a team of intercessors praying for me and praying for the crowd. It gives you, you know that supernatural work is being done. When I was a pastor I called the people to pray for the lost. Now, when I gave the invitation, I started noticing I’d give the gospel. I transitioned to, Hey, maybe you’re here today and you don’t know Christ. And soon as I started doing that, I started noticing people would start putting their stuff away because they knew the end of the stuff, end of the sermon was about to happen. So I got in the habit about once a month or so said, Hey, believers, stop putting your stuff away because right now there’s a battle between the forces of heaven and the forces of hell for the souls of the lost people in this congregation.

 

0:06:39.5 GS: So I don’t need you putting your stuff away, being used by Satan as a distraction. I want you to keep your eyes open and pray for those around you who don’t know Christ. You only needed to do that once every month or two. And people became trained. So what happened at Grace’s church is when I began to give the gospel, because of that gentle rebuke that would happen every month or two people would pray, you could almost feel the prayers going up. They were participating with me in the invitation because they were praying for the lost to be saved and the saved to be sent. Get your people praying for the lost in your church, your youth group, especially during the gospel presentation and invitation, also along with it, with prayer. Remember this, remember that it is God who saves, not us or our methods.

 

0:07:30.4 GS: I just wanna really make that clear. It’s God who saves, not us or our methods. Acts 2:47, Luke writes, and the Lord added to their number daily, those who are being saved. It’s the Lord who adds to our numbers, right? It’s the Lord who brings the lost from the dark to the light. We don’t have to dumb down the gospel or use elaborate methodologies. We present the gospel clearly and trust that the Lord will do his thing. And what is this thing, Jonah 2:9 says, salvation comes from the Lord. Salvation is his thing. That’s what he does. What is our role in it? 2 Corinthians 4:2. Man, I love this. Paul writes, we’ve renounced secret and shameful ways. You could say, we’re not using manipulation to get people to respond. We do not use deception. Nor do we distort the word of God, on the contrary by setting forth the truth plainly, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. So we just set forth the truth plainly, understanding. It’s not our methodology, it’s God who saves. So that’s why we pray. Another reminder about this is, remember that God uses our sermons, although it’s God who saves. God uses our sermons, our gospel presentations and invitations and answer to our prayers to accomplish his goal. So it’s really important that you do this well.

 

0:09:01.3 GS: That you give the gospel clearly and you do an invitation well, Acts 14:1 at Iconium, Paul and Barnabas, went as usual into the Jewish synagogue, there they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed, of course, it was God who was doing the saving, but God used them and why they were speaking so effectively. It is God’s job to save. It’s our job to share the gospel as effectively and clearly as possible. And that’s what the rest of the points of this video and this talk are all about. How do you do that? So you wanna give an effective invitation. Number one, starts with prayer. Number two, salvation segue. In other words, we gotta make a transition to the gospel, right? So when I preach a sermon, for the most part, unless I’m doing an evangelist of outreach, I’m targeting most of my talk toward the believer, right?

 

0:09:57.3 GS: But as I preach, I look for on-ramps to turn the conversation to the unbelievers in the audience. I make a salvation segue. Now, how do you do that? You talk about the problem. So you can introduce the solution. So this is true in sales. Sales 101 is this, if you want a person to buy your product, you have to help identify a problem that they can’t solve by themselves. And then you show them how your product, service, or system can solve that problem. You have that stain, you can’t get out of your shirt. Try our detergent. Do you feel thirsty and depleted after your workout? Try our rehydrating sports drink. Are you tired of being overweight and out of shape? Try our workout program. I don’t know why I went to the southern accent with that, but it just works. You got to present the problem, then present the solution.

 

0:10:51.7 GS: Problem-solution is key. When you’re trying to get somebody to buy your product. Well, guess what? We as preachers, as evangelists, as youth leaders, we’re not salesmen. We’re not selling a product. But we are trying to get somebody motivated to accept the gospel. That’s why we can help their attention, get their attention with a problem-solution approach. Let me give you an example. You struggle with your identity. Well, guess what? You can find your true and lasting identity in Christ. Is your life full of anxiety and fear? Well, guess what? Jesus can conquer your anxiety and give you lasting peace. Are you struggling to find purpose? Well, guess what? God will give you a purpose that will change the trajectory of your life. So when you’re making a salvation segue, present the problem, show the solution. Now, these are felt needs, but we also wanna do this. We want to get to their real need, right? So talk about sin. So you can introduce them to the concept of salvation, ’cause their felt need may be these other things, but their real need is they’re sinners in need of a savior.

 

0:11:56.8 GS: Galatians 1:3-5, grace and peace to you from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. So we need to help them come to terms with their sin. Before a person knows they need rescued, like if you’re in the water and you’re drowning and you don’t know it, you got to come to the point where you know, I am drowning in my sin and I need someone to save me. And when we preach, we need to help them understand they’re drowning in their sin, and they need someone else to save them. Now, when I preach, I often tell the story of my mom.

 

0:12:41.4 GS: My ma, almost aborted me. She had a lot of rage, but it was a shame-fueled rage. My mom had met my biological father at a party. They partied. She got pregnant, he found out he got transferred. My mom had been in and out of relationships her whole life. And I remember sharing the gospel with her. My mom, man, she knew that she was a sinner. Matter of fact, to the point where she thought, I’m too, I’m drown. I’ve already drowned. I’m not drowning. I’m drowned. There’s no hope. And finally, she was able to accept her rescuer as Jesus Christ. So we need to help people understand they’re drowning in sin and they need a savior. So we make that salvation segue, present the problem, show the solution. Help them understand their biggest problem is sin, and the solution is in Christ.

 

0:13:35.2 GS: And find and follow the scarlet cord. So part of the salvation segue is finding and following the scarlet cord. Let me explain it this way. I’m convinced that buried in the soil of every passage of scripture, there’s a hidden scarlet cord. And as you prepare for your sermon, thrust your hand deeply into the dirt of that passage and feel around until you find that scarlet cord. Pull it up from the soil of that text and follow that scarlet cord to its end there. You’ll find it wrapped around the bloodstained cross of Christ.

 

0:14:07.4 GS: Let me give you an example. If you’re preaching from Genesis 6 about Noah and the Ark, and how God used the ark to save Noah and his family from the flood, find the scarlet cord of Jesus being the ark in the New Testament, that can save humanity from destruction. If you’re preaching from 1 Samuel 17 about David defeating the giant, find the scarlet cord of Jesus, the son of David, defeating the giant of sin at the cross. If you’re preaching about the seemingly endless and somewhat boring sacrifices of the book of Leviticus, then find the scarlet cord of Jesus being the one-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross, who in one fell swoop obliterated sin and the need for a sacrificial system, there is a scarlet cord that leads to the cross in every passage of scripture.

 

0:14:55.7 GS: It’s more obvious in some passages, John 3:16, that scarlet cord is not even in the dirt. It’s laying right on the dirt. You have to just pick it up. It’s right there. But sometimes you gotta look and find it and dig deeper. Maybe it’s some of the genealogies in 2 Chronicles or the future prophecies of Ezekiel or the judgments of the book of Revelation. The scarlet cord is there, but you have to look for it and find it. As someone once said that, Spurgeon said, it actually cannot be documented. But I take my text and I make a beeline for the cross. Now, although that cannot be definitively attributed to Spurgeon, that’s exactly what he did. If you go back and read any Spurgeon sermon, he takes his text and he makes a beeline for the cross.

 

0:15:43.9 GS: Why did this guy reach millions? And in 19th century, how was his message able to pack out this huge church in South London? How many, how could, so many people copied his sermons and around the world to this day, people are inspired by Charles Spurgeon because he took his texts and he made a beeline to the cross. Let me just give you a simple hack. When you make a salvation segue, here’s what I do. I’m preaching and I’m talking about problem-solution. I’m talking about sin and the need for salvation. And then I’ll say something like, maybe you’re here today and you’re sensing that need, that little, maybe you’re here today. And that’s a mental cue to the audience of believers that I’m turning this discussion to those in this room who do not yet know Christ. So you wanna pray.

 

0:16:41.3 GS: Secondly, salvation segue. Thirdly, gospel explanation. Now, I’m not gonna spend a ton of time on this because in our last episode we really talked about what it means to present a clear gospel. But I really want to encourage you to present a clear gospel, right? And if you want to, you want a feel safe way to do that, you want to quality control, use the gospel, acrostic, right? G-O-S-P-E-L. Just use it as a mental outline. Memorize it, and use it. When you present the gospel, God created us to be with him. O, is our sins separated us from God? Sins cannot be removed by good deeds. P is paying the price for sin Jesus died and rose again. E is everyone who trust in him alone has eternal life. And L is life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. I can always tell when a pastor or a youth leader had taken their kids to Dare 2 Share. Because when they give the gospel, even though they don’t say this is the G-O-S-P-E-L, you can literally pick it out of their gospel presentation. They’ve made it their own, but it is G-O-S-P-E-L.

 

0:17:54.2 GS: So give the gospel explanation clearly. I encourage you to use that gospel acrostic. And like I said in the last episode, if you forget everything else, remember the cross. If you don’t preach Christ and him crucified, you are not preaching the gospel. Right? I determined to know nothing among you except for Christ, and him crucified. So if you forget all the other stuff, just preach the cross and what Jesus did for them on the cross. Also, again, like I said in the last episode, watch your terms. A lot of Christians and a lot of pastors, a lot of evangelists use terms that are unclear. Make sure you use the terms. Just think of John 3:16. What did Jesus say? You believe in him. You have eternal life. That word believe means to trust in or rely upon. So, trust in Christ alone, rely on him alone. Believe in Jesus based on his finished work on the cross, make sure that you are clear. Again, I encourage you, if you’ve not watched the last episode on how to present a clear gospel during the invitation, make sure you watch that. Okay. The fourth thing you do. So, we pray.

 

0:18:56.0 GS: We make the salvation segue. We present the gospel, then we do the private invitation. So before the public response, there’s a private invitation. Romans 10:9 and 10. Paul writes, if you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. It is with your heart you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. So before we talk about a public response, let’s talk about that private response. Before they confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, they must truly believe in their heart that Jesus died for them. That’s why I never go straight to a public response. I present the gospel. I never go straight to a public response. Why? Because it can be super distracting from the gospel. I believe that some pastors and evangelists and a desire to see people respond publicly don’t give enough space for the unbeliever to actually understand the gospel and believe. You need to give them time in their heart to believe in Christ and be justified.

 

0:20:11.5 GS: I’ll be honest with you, I think that’s one of the reasons why so many people out there falsely think that they’re saved. They responded to a sermon by walking an aisle or standing up or raising their hand, but they never took time to believe in their heart and be justified. I talk to a lot of people, they’re like, well, I know I’m saved because I said this prayer or because I walked an aisle, or because I stood, I made a decision, a public thing at a camp. But have you put your faith in Christ? That’s why when I give an invitation before that public response, I do that private invitation. I give them a quiet space to wrestle with God in their hearts. And if they’re ready to put their faith in Christ, I say something like this, can I have everyone bow your heads and close your eyes?

 

0:21:03.2 GS: And you don’t have to do that. I’m just saying this is what I do with, when I give the gospel. With your heads bowed and eyes closed, I’d like to ask you a question. Do you know for sure your sins are forgiven? Do you know you have a relationship with God through Jesus? Do you know for sure you’re going to go to heaven someday? If not, with your heads bowed and eyes closed, I’d love to give you an opportunity to put your faith in Jesus right now. Would right now, you recognize that you’re a sinner in need of a savior? Would you trust in Jesus right now to give you eternal life? You can say the simple silent prayer in your heart to God. Dear God, I know I’m a sinner. I know I can’t save myself by my own efforts, but I believe that Jesus died in my place for my sin. And I trust in him alone to forgive me for my sins and give me eternal life. I receive the free gift of eternal life by faith right now. Thank you for saving me. Then I say something like, if you just trusted in Jesus based on his death on the cross in your place because of your sins, you’re saved, not because you said a prayer, but because you trusted in Jesus. That is the private invitation.

 

0:22:22.1 GS: If you notice toward the end of that, I started slowing down because you want to give them time to repeat that in their heart to God and really think about those words. And again, saying a prayer doesn’t save you. Just a way for them to tell God thank you. I do believe. I’ve put my faith in Christ. This is the type of private invitation I give. This is when they’re not distracted by anything else. That’s why I have them bow their heads and close their eyes. I want them to really do business with God and have a genuine faith in Jesus as their savior. This is the moment that you give them the opportunity according to Romans 10:9 and 10, to believe in their heart and become justified. Then comes the public response again, Romans 10:9 and 10. If you declare with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved, for it is with your heart that you believe in are justified, is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

 

0:23:25.0 GS: There’s something about that public proclamation. I remember, 20 years ago, I was invited to preach at an Episcopalian church. Now, I remember talking to the priest there, and I was like, he’s like, how long’s your sermon? I go, 30 minutes. He goes, you got 12. I got 12. I can’t say hello in 12. How about 25? He goes, how about 18? How about 20? Sold. So I was negotiating minutes and I, in the midst of all their, I mean the Eucharist, they had all sorts of different things going on that I, incense, I wasn’t used to it. I was like, oh, they got a lot of stuff going on here. And it was actually pretty meaningful with the reading of the creeds. And, but I get up 20 minutes, give the gospel, everybody bow their heads and close their eyes.

 

0:24:10.9 GS: If you’re trusting in Jesus, raise your hand. And I got, I had to go quick. So I sat back down when I was done and the priest continued on with his duties. And all of a sudden, this was not in the script. A teenage girl got up and walked the aisle right in the middle of all of his stuff and tapped him on the shoulder. And he turned around and she whispered something in his ear and he turned to the crowd and he said, this young lady put her faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the first time and she wanted everyone here to know that. And everybody cheered. And I knew this was not normal Episcopalian stuff going on here. But it was awesome because in that moment that girl was declaring Jesus is Lord.

 

0:24:56.3 GS: In the pew, in the seat, she had put her faith in Christ, believed in her heart and was justified. But now she was in a sense saying, Jesus is Lord, publicly. Now listen, here’s something interesting. Jesus is Lord, this is from the NIV 1984 text notes. Jesus is Lord was the earliest Christian confession of faith, probably used at baptisms 1st Corinthians 12:3, in view of the fact that Lord, Greek Kurios, is used over 6000 times in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, to translate the name of Israel as Yahweh. It’s clear that Paul when using this word of Jesus is ascribing deity to him, deity to him. So in that culture, when you said Jesus is Lord, you’re saying Jesus is Yahweh. That’s why it was so disruptive. And it was the baptismal, according to the NIV text notes, it was most likely the baptismal confession.

 

0:25:56.7 GS: And you got to realize this did not happen hidden away in a church. There were no church buildings. This happened in Mitzvahs. The southern steps of the temple or in the Jordan River or in the Sea of Galilee. It was a public thing. When he said, Jesus is Lord, basically the Romans considered that treason because they believed that that Caesar was Lord. And the Jews considered that blasphemous because you’re literally saying Jesus is Yahweh. That’s how the Jewish mind, and took it he’s the way, the truth, the life. He is the one. So I want to make this clear. The private invitation you believe in your heart you’re justified. The public response, ultimately this was the baptismal. Ultimately, the public response was getting baptized. When the text says, it is with your mouth that you profess and are saved, we must remember, I want to make this clear.

 

0:26:50.0 GS: Salvation has three aspects. We have justification. That’s the moment we believe, we have sanctification, that’s the process of being formed through the image of Christ. We have glorification. That’s when we’re fully free from sin in heaven. As someone has put it, justification is being saved from the penalty of sin, that happens when you believe in our heart and are justified. Sanctification is being saved from the power of sin. And glorification is being saved from the presence of sin. So sanctification is being saved from the power of sin. So when it says, if you confess, when you confess with your mouth, you are saved, I personally don’t believe that is talking about justification, ’cause it says, if you believe in your heart, you’re justified. You declare with your mouth you’re saved. I believe what Paul is talking about is that moment of public profession is a declaration that Jesus is Lord, listen, I believe this in my heart.

 

0:27:49.5 GS: Now I’m declaring it with my mouth standing in the water. Jesus is Lord. In that moment, your sanctification is accelerated because people around you see. So what I want to say is get them to the baptismal as soon as possible. Baptism doesn’t save you. Sorry if that offends some people listening to this. It does not save you, but it does sanctify you. It does identify you. It does, it gives you the opportunity to stand in the water and say, Jesus is Lord. You want to get them as soon as possible after they trust Christ. I don’t understand 12 week courses before you can get baptized. It’s like all they need to know is this doesn’t save you, but you’re just telling everybody, Hey, I believe, just like this ring does not make, I could lose the ring and still be married to my lovely wife.

 

0:28:39.6 GS: But the ring lets everyone know I’m married to my lovely wife. In the same way, baptism is that public declaration that we’re saying in a sense Jesus is Lord. And that accelerates our sanctification. So get them baptized as soon as possible. So all the public responses we’re going to talk about, the potential ones, I look at as a first step toward baptism, ’cause some people say, well, the altar calls are never in the Bible. I’m like, yeah, really? They’re all through the New Testament. Come to the water. That’s what happened in Acts 2. They got, they repented and they got baptized. They changed their mind about who Christ was and what’s going to save them. And then they got publicly baptized. They believed in their heart, they repented, were justified. They declared with their mouth and were saved, sanctified.

 

0:29:32.3 GS: You don’t see un-baptized believers in the New Testament. So any public response that we have should be that first step toward baptism as soon as possible. A raised hand. You can have people bow their, what I do is I bow their heads, close your eyes, if that makes sense. You’re ready to put your faith in Christ. You can raise your hand. You can have them look up at you and really encourage ’em with, connect with you afterward. You can have them send a text. I travel with Winter Jam with my buddy Zane Black. And when people responded, we had ’em bow their heads, close their eyes, raise their hand. I say, okay, send this word to this number. And it gave them a new believer series. You can have ’em walk the aisle.

 

0:30:13.1 GS: There’s nothing wrong with people like, you don’t want to do that? Listen, the only problem I have with any of these responses is if you don’t give them time to make that private decision between them and God, the private invitation first, then the public response. You can even have ’em stand up right where they’re at and let everybody know around them today, they put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. But get them baptized as soon as possible and get them the tools they need to grow. Get ’em a Bible. Get ’em a new believers series. We developed one like 30 plus years ago at Grace Church when I was a pastor, we had so many people coming to Christ. It was getting expensive for us to buy these new believers series, so I wrote one. We still have it. It’s available on dare2share.org.

 

0:31:00.2 GS: It’s called Now Grow. It’s a seven part curriculum that helps new believers grow in their faith. Get them plugged in with the discipler, get them plugged in with a small group. My rule of thumb when I was a pastor, when I was a youth leader is, Hey, if you brought them out and they trusted Christ, you do the discipling. Don’t pawn your work off on me. You started it, you finish it. We’ll give you the tools to be able to do that. Now, let me just say this before we bring in our guest, some preachers and youth leaders are afraid of invitations, and that may be you. And down deep inside, we know why, because we’re afraid of looking like a failure if someone doesn’t trust in Jesus, subconsciously even we think, man, if that happens week after week and nobody comes to Christ, I look like a loser.

 

0:31:56.1 GS: But I want to tell you, I think failure is when we don’t give people a chance to trust in Jesus and respond. That’s failure. I think you make a statement when you give the gospel and an invitation. And when nobody indicates faith in Christ and you just keep doing it, you are telling your people that you’re not ashamed of the gospel. You’re telling your people that you’re not ashamed if nobody responds. You’re telling your people that you’re going to keep giving it until they do respond. And even if they don’t respond, you’re going to keep doing it. And that’s exactly what you’re asking them to do with their own lives, with the lost people around them. You’re telling them to keep giving the gospel no matter what happens, no matter how the people around them respond, you’re setting the pace for being a faithful witness every Sunday morning or every Wednesday night whenever you do your youth group.

 

0:32:51.8 GS: I guarantee you though this, over time, people will respond, ’cause the word of God does not come back void. And over time, your people, your students will get a clue that, man, this is a easy way for me to start to introduce people to Jesus Christ. I can invite them. I know the gospel’s going to be given clearly when I invite them to youth group or to church. I’ll never forget Pastor Rod, Pastor Rod was not giving an invitation. He did not give the gospel consistently. And I told him, why are you not doing that? And he says, well, I don’t know. And so I made a case for it. He heard me preach. I preached at his church. He made a promise that he would give the gospel consistently. And I’ll never forget the first time he called and said, Greg, in tears, somebody put their faith in Christ in my church service.

 

0:33:47.3 GS: I will never fail to give the gospel again. Take your text and make a beeline for the cross. And I hope these five keys to giving an effective invitation really helps you do that well. Okay, now I get to bring in my friend, Andy McGowan. Andy is a pastor of, the lead pastor at Kenosha City Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was a youth leader for years. Big Dare 2 Share guy. Close friend. He’s one of the guys I talk to just when I want to chat. And he’s implemented the gospel advancing values church-wide. He did it as a youth leader. Now he’s doing it church-wide. He influences other pastors in area and across the nation with the gospel advancing values. And he’s a guy that gives the gospel an invitation clearly every single week. So, Andy, welcome, welcome to the program. And I’m just going to just open it up to you to just say, comment, question, build on whatever. Go for it.

 

0:34:47.5 Andy McGowan: Yeah. Hey, Greg, I just want to correct you real quick. I know that you called me a lead pastor, but I am secretly still a youth pastor just with lead pastor clothes on.

 

0:34:56.4 GS: Oh, that’s better. That’s better even yet. There you go.

 

0:34:58.3 AM: Don’t tell anybody. [chuckle] All right. So, no, it is an honor to be part of your podcast today. And I’m taking notes just on what you unpacked. And sometimes it’s not hearing something new. Sometimes it’s hearing something that you’ve heard over and over again, and you need to hear it again. Just a clear gospel is so key. But it’s not just a clear gospel. It’s actually planning to say the gospel every single time. And Greg, you’re right. That is something that I am immovable on. I was taught from one of my mentors early on. He said, you preach the gospel every time. And then I met you and you pounded in me, to not not only preach the gospel every time, but preach a clear gospel every time. And so, but I will say there’s been some times I’ve missed it and I’ve botched it.

 

0:35:48.9 AM: One thing that can happen in youth ministry or if you’re a lead guy listening or someone in between, or maybe you’re doing the kids’ ministries, is that the pressures of ministry or the things you need to respond to right now sometimes press out you thinking about landing the plane and saying, okay, how am I going to make, what you said, we’ll just say Spurgeon, making a beeline for the cross. How am I going to turn what we’re talking to into a meaningful gospel conversation where people can respond? But if you’re not actually planning for that each and every week, you could either not give enough time or just plain, just don’t do it. And there’s a couple times that happened in youth ministry, and one particular time it happened had some students finally bring their atheist friends to youth group.

 

0:36:34.5 AM: They came that night. And for whatever reason, I don’t know if we were, had a bunch of pizzas ordered or we had an awesome game, I can’t remember exactly what was happening, but something that wasn’t important, I don’t remember, was pressing. And I didn’t give the gospel that night. And they came up to me later on and almost in tears, and they said, why didn’t you give the gospel? I thought, oh my goodness, how did that happen? And so even when you say, oh yeah, I’m committed to giving it every week, you have to plan, you have to guard it, protect it, because there’s so many good things that can press out and push out the opportunity to share a clear gospel that people can respond to.

 

0:37:13.0 GS: Amen. You should make a rule, no gospel, no offering. It’s like…

 

0:37:16.3 AM: That’s right.

 

0:37:17.8 GS: That’s right.

 

0:37:20.3 AM: That’s right. Or, yeah. I’ve, there was one time recently, I don’t know, again, you just don’t know what’s, again, I can’t remember what was the pressing thing, but I went back up and I said, I need to give the gospel. Holy cow. Sorry guys. I don’t know if the clock, if you’re bound by the clock, whether you’re, you have, you’re part of a big student ministry and there’s a clock in the back of the room, or for me, there’s a clock in the back of my room, ’cause we’re live streaming, and there’s just times they’re looking at the clock. It’s like, well, wait a minute. Hold up. I don’t care if there’s anything awkwardly, I’m going back up and I’m giving the sermon, I’m giving the gospel.

 

0:37:52.0 GS: Exactly. Yeah, that’s great. Because I remember the Pastor Rod, one of the things he told me, he’s like, well, I don’t have time. I’m like, cut a song. Cut a point. I go, you don’t have time for the cross? You don’t have time? And he’s like, you’re right. I gotta make time. We need to make time for the gospel of Jesus Christ. And you think about it, communion, which seems like in the early church was a weekly, you know, activity, in a sense, it was a gospel presentation because you have to explain communion. What it represents. And that consistent focus on the cross, the broken body, the shed blood of Christ in our place for our sins was part and parcel of the early church. And I think, you know, as a pastor, when you prepare your sermons now, are you doing that whole like scarlet cord and looking for that? You know, what’s your process for kind of figuring that out as you preach?

 

0:38:55.7 AM: Well, it’s not just preaching the gospel at the end. Sometimes by the time I get to actually presenting the gospel, and you’re right, you would hear G-O-S-P-E-L in the background. I don’t just go, G, God create us to be with him. I don’t say that, it’s in the background. It’s like running as an operating system to sharing the gospel. And so, yes, I give that clear presentation at the end of the service, give people time to respond, hands up. But usually Greg, that’s about the third or fourth time I’ve given the gospel, is that scarlet cord is going to your main point. It’s going to your sub points, whether you’re a three point person in a poem, 15 points. It doesn’t matter. The gospel is all over that thing.

 

0:39:44.9 AM: It’s not just Christ centered, but it’s making somebody realize whether it’s a felt need of, if you’re speaking on anxiety, it’s like, Hey, you know what I’m gonna give you today, this could help you in the short term, but what you need is that solid rock that you can only find in a relationship with Jesus. You know, just finding opportunities to really salt the conversation, to finally, when you get to the end of the service, not only do you have practical points or people to grow in their sanctification, but you have people that don’t know Christ, they have the opportunity to say, I’m in, I’m in. I’m placing my full faith and trust in Christ today.

 

0:40:15.6 GS: You know, and I think that’s, you bring up an excellent point because the gospel should, we should not think about, just give it at the end. You can give the gospel, by the way, anytime during your sermon and give it at response time. I do sometimes in the middle of my talk, whatever. But the gospel should be woven throughout our entire talks.

 

0:40:32.7 AM: Absolutely.

 

0:40:32.8 GS: It’s one of the things I really appreciate about the church where we go. I mean, there’s gospel in the worship. There’s a gospel three or four times that is kind of woven through the sermon. And we should be fully gospelize youth ministry, fully gospelize church service, because again, it’s not just unbelievers that need it, it’s believers. We always need to go back to the cross. Back to the cross and help each other. Yeah. Any other thoughts?

 

0:41:00.9 AM: Absolutely. Yeah, your first point on prayer. Like for youth pastors, pastors, oftentimes we think of, okay, who’s gonna be on our greeters team, or who’s gonna be in our kids area? Who’s gonna be running sound? Or who’s gonna be running if you have a youth cafe? Or who’s gonna just be the youth ministry sheriff or security team? And often what is overlooked is a prayer team. We have an intercessory team, intercessors team that prays before both of our services on Sunday morning. They pray for an hour, and then they come and sit down and they continue to pray while they’re in their seats. And they come up to me after the service, like you can’t believe what you said today, we were praying for. I know that when I’m giving the gospel, they’re praying in their seats as well.

 

0:41:49.3 AM: But also our greeters, like what do they do in between services when they’re just sitting there? They turn into a prayer team as well. And so when they start hearing the gospel presentation, they are praying, they’re praying for responses. And so, I wanted to say amen to that. Turn your existing teams into prayer teams during the church service. Get an intercessors team, people that want to, that will commit to showing up each and every week. And I’m gonna tell you, I just told this to our intercessors last week, as a matter of fact. And intercessors, by the way, they’re just people that wanna pray. Okay? It’s not like, oh, they’re super at praying. They just, they are willing to show up and go before the throne of God and say, God, will you rob hell this Sunday? Will you make sure that whoever’s preaching this Sunday gives a clear gospel presentation?

 

0:42:38.4 AM: Will you bring in people this Sunday? Will you bring in students, some schools that have said, no, no, no, and then finally like, okay, I’m coming? Will you open their hearts? It’s those moments where it’s like, God shows up. We can give the message, but it’s God who actually opens up the hearts of the people ready to respond. I mean, Greg, if it was up to you and I to say, okay, well, we can get people to be saved. There’d be millions of people saved at this point, right? Like, we’d make sure that people would get saved, but guess what? We’re not in control of that. That the Lord is in control of that. The person has to respond, they have a personal responsibility to respond to the gospel. And we need God to show up.

 

0:43:19.2 AM: And so I was telling our team, our prayer team, I said, we are here today where we’re at with people coming in the doors, in part because you’re going before the throne room in prayer. That doesn’t negate that I need to pray. That doesn’t negate anybody else. But there’s something to it when we know that the services, or our youth meetings or whatever we’re doing is being covered in people going before the throne and saying, God, we need you to show up. We need the principalities of the darkness, of principalities to be pushed away, to where people can hear the clearness of the gospel of Jesus Christ that saves.

 

0:43:53.3 GS: Well, I think that’s great. I love the idea of double duty, getting your greeters on it, getting the intercessors on it, getting other… One of the things when I was a pastor, I was just thinking about this, and I know this has happened to you, is even though I did more of an expository sermon approach. And this, by the way, this works with expository or topical preaching for life, whatever your approach is for that, even the gospel plan. But I’d always get people to come up to me afterward and say, you know what? I don’t know if this church is for us, because it’s just too evangelistic.

 

0:44:25.0 AM: Yep, exactly.

 

0:44:27.0 GS: You know, I used to tell them, Hey, that’s fine. This church isn’t for everybody. But I’d also remind them that about 80% of my sermon and the service, maybe more was really designed for the believer. It’s just that, you know, you give the gospel consistently every week. And sadly believers oftentimes get bored with that.

 

0:44:50.2 AM: They do.

 

0:44:52.9 GS: And that’s a frustrating thing. Sometimes, I’m like, well maybe this church isn’t for you if you’re bored by the gospel, ’cause, and I think it’s okay. It’s great if you want to do it creatively every week and in a unique way. It’s also great if you’re just consistent. There is something miraculous about the mundane grind it out. Here’s the gospel message. Don’t ever get sick of it. This is the message that changes lives. But do you ever get that, some of that pushback?

 

0:45:21.0 AM: Oh, yes. Definitely. Especially in youth ministry. When we went to our first Dare 2 Share conference, and we’re like, we’re going all in. We’re gonna be a ministry that where we give the gospel every single night at youth group. And we’re gonna go to our high school and middle school campuses and reach people that don’t know Christ. We bought all the Mountain Dew. We’d hand it out after school and we’d share at the time you had gospel tracks, Dare 2 Share made gospel tracks. We’d hand those out. And at the existing youth group, I had about half of them left, like that. Like, ah, this is for us. We don’t want to be around those kids. And I realized, okay, when you hear that, people forgot what brought them to the dance.

 

0:46:01.9 AM: Right? They forgot how important the gospel is for their own souls. I forget what theologian said this, but I think it’s from the book, the Gospel Primer. Someone in your audience will probably tell you the, who I’m forgetting who wrote that. A dead saint, he’s in heaven. All right. So, but he said that we need to preach the gospel to ourselves so that we remember just how important the gospel is. That without it, we are lost. And when we remember what we’ve been rescued from, we’re gonna want to go to the people that need rescued. Not because we’re better, but because, man, this is such a greatest salvation. It’s urgent. So our students caught that, seven students caught that, we lost about, we went negative, about a dozen. All right. But within two years, we double, triple, quadrupled the group because they began to reach those who had never been reached before.

 

0:46:54.5 GS: And you brought in students that now had a gospel advancing DNA to change the whole…

 

0:46:58.0 AM: Correct.

 

0:47:02.8 GS: So sometimes it’s not necessarily bad to lose some people or some students that are bored with the gospel, ’cause if they can’t get excited about the gospel, I don’t know if I want them in my church or my youth group.

 

0:47:15.1 AM: Right. I mean, I, obviously, we want to, we wanna try to reach those students to get it, but sometimes they won’t. And I think one of the biggest errors of where I expended so much energy as a youth pastor, even as a lead pastor, is those that said, this isn’t for me. I’m out. And I would dwell on that at the expense of the 99. I would dwell on that one. And sometimes, people use that verse, you go for the one, for the 99. It’s like, well, no, they don’t want to stay, they don’t want that.

 

0:47:42.4 GS: Sometimes you gotta kick out the one for the sake of the 99. I mean, not kick out, but let them go ahead and go somewhere else because, yeah.

 

0:47:52.6 AM: Right. Yeah, exactly. You can appeal for the heart. And I think I’ve coached some youth pastors and even pastors for that matter across the country, where sometimes they get a little bit like a bull in a China shop. You know they get kind of excitable to where they quickly say, Hey, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. And I think we need to be really careful with that, because sometimes it’s those that, you’ve heard of the late adopters. Sometimes it’s the late adopters…

 

0:48:13.9 GS: Takes time.

 

0:48:14.8 AM: That will become your greatest advocates later on. So we want to… But there are times that people say, I’m out. And you got to just give that to God. We’re not God, all right? But God has entrusted us with goers, and we need to go with the goers. Let me tell, let me say this. So when I became a lead pastor, I began to hear people just, and sometimes there were young people that would say, well, man, just you preach the same thing every week. And I said, no, we actually preached something different every week. What they meant was, well, you preach the gospel every week. And I get bored with that. And I think that’s an opportunity to train that person, just like you said, to start praying for people that don’t know Christ, they’re gonna come to Christ, to have the expectation that people are gonna come to know Jesus each and every week. But there are a few people that were never adopters. They ended up leaving, unfortunately, some of them even tried influencing others. Like, we need to be a deep church, or we need to be…

 

0:49:12.8 AM: And they begin to use different buzz words. And ironically, sometimes people will even say, well, I wish I would do it, you would do it this way. This is the better way. And they weren’t even doing it that way. And it reminds me of DL Moody’s quote, it says, it’s clear you don’t like my way of doing evangelism. This is what DL Moody said. You raise some good points, frankly, sometimes do not like my way of doing evangelism, but I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it at all. That’s DL Moody.

 

0:49:37.4 GS: That’s exactly right.

 

0:49:41.5 AM: And so there are… And you don’t like the GOSPEL. Fine. I think it’s great. I think it’s the best acrostic out there.

 

0:49:44.6 GS: Yeah. Come up with your own thing. Yeah.

 

0:49:46.0 AM: But oftentimes, that’s a smoke screen of saying, I’m not really interested in that. Because the church can be a place where we do a lot of good things, a lot, right? We can feel soup bowls, we can get on the ground, clean up leaves around town. We can do a number of really good things. And I’m not saying don’t do those things. However, I believe, ooh, this might be controversial. I’m gonna say it. I believe a lot of people do a lot of good things so they can avoid doing the greatest thing. And that’s the gospel thing. It’s both, obviously. The gospel’s gonna lead you to good things, but oftentimes in the church, we can say, oh, I wanna do this method, or I wanna do this thing over here. And the heart of the matter is, it’s just, we’re not about the gospel.

 

0:50:32.8 AM: I had a few guys tell me once, Hey, Andy, Kenosha City Church, you guys are the evangelism church. And my first thought was, oh, that’s cool. What are the… Wait, what do you mean we’re the evangelism church? Well, you give the gospel every Sunday, and a lot of people are coming to Christ and but we’re a discipleship church, or we’re a worship church. And finally I thought about it and I came back to them. I said, well, wait a minute. Aren’t we supposed to be all those things? You are supposed to be an evangelist church. An evangelist church isn’t people that are just passionate about evangelism or have good evangelists or whatever. It is the last and lasting mandate that Jesus gave us. We should all be an evangelist church, whether we’re good at it or not. I love what George Whitfield said, Other men may preach the gospel better than I, but no man can preach a better gospel. If it’s the gospel, it’s not gonna return void. So we should all become evangelist churches because we’re simply obeying and being obedient to the Great Commission.

 

0:51:32.5 GS: Exactly. Exactly. And man, we gotta wrap up this time, but these are all excellent points. If somebody wanted to like, check out one of your sermons, they could see and do a spot quality check of your gospel presentation and invitation, which I’m sure would be excellent, where would they go? What’s your church website?

 

0:51:54.5 AM: You can go straight to our website, Kenosha.Church. There, you can find the messages. Also, you can go to our YouTube. That’s probably, that may be even the easiest place where you can put in Kenosha City Church and you can find their and spot check, yes. There are times Greg has called me up after my message and he’s like, Hey, man, good message. Or, Hey, man, what about this? And I’m like, I love it. I love that he spot checks it.

 

0:52:15.6 GS: The principal is watching.

 

0:52:19.9 AM: That’s right. And so, because you know what? A clear gospel is so important. It’s not just that you give the gospel, that’s really important. But a clear gospel that your terms are clear to where they can understand and do business with Jesus in their seat.

 

0:52:35.6 GS: Well, and the spot check we gotta be most concerned about is when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ. By your words, you’ll be acquitted, by your words, you’ll be condemned. I mean, I believe James 3:1, we who are teachers have a bigger responsibility. If people wanna follow you on socials, where would they go?

 

0:52:52.7 AM: On Twitter @AndrewMcGowan, I mean, or X, whatever you wanna call it. And you could find me on Instagram as AndyMcG. But Twitter @AndrewMcGowan and AndyMcG on Instagram. And can I say one more thing, Greg?

 

0:53:12.2 GS: Sure. Yeah.

 

0:53:15.2 AM: Youth pastors and pastors, I think one of the greatest things that you can do in the legacy is not only raising up students to pass on the gospel to their students on the campus, but it’s raising up leaders to multiply the message that you give each and every Sunday night. I had a pastor, or no, not a pastor. I had just someone in our church that we’ve trained up to give sermons, trained up to give the gospel. And he preached last Sunday, and he nailed it. And I just sat there. I’m like, my goodness. Like, here it is. Here’s somebody that’s able to articulate a clear gospel. And so again, think of the people who can raise up in your ministry that they as well can, whether they’re gonna give a message or whether it’s at their, a small group, or whether it’s on the campus, that can give a clear message. It needs to be you, but think of the leaders that God’s entrusted you with to multiply that out as well.

 

0:54:11.4 GS: That’s good stuff. Good stuff. Yep. Well, Andy, thanks so much for being a part of this, and God bless you and your ongoing efforts; and pastors, youth leaders, evangelists give the gospel clearly. Give an invitation, give a private response and a public invitation, and watch what God will do. Thanks for tuning in.