Fish: Evangelistic preaching is a must
It’s preaching for a verdict
to all those
in dire need
of the Gospel
By Brian Koonce
December 13, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – You would be hard pressed to find someone more qualified than Roy Fish to teach preachers how they might deliver a more evangelistic sermon.
A professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), Fort Worth, Texas, Fish also serves as second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and on several SBC committees and agency boards. He has written six books on evangelism and the undergraduate College at Southwestern has established the Roy Fish Evangelism Award in his honor.
So when Fish took the podium to offer advice to the approximately 100 pastors attending a preaching workshop at Concord Baptist Church Nov. 28, all eyes and ears were open.
“I don’t know why, but there has been a dearth of evangelistic preaching,” he said. “I’m not sure when it began, but it’s almost like it’s taboo.”
Fish said pastors still give evangelistic invitations and people are being won to the Lord, but they aren’t coming in droves to hear the Gospel each Sunday morning.
“I wonder, have we stopped preaching evangelistic sermons because lost people are not coming to our services like they once did? Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe we stopped preaching evangelistic messages and God stopped bringing lost people to our services to hear them,” he said.
Evangelistic preaching is defined by its content, Fish said. Recalling Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, “the Gospel that I presented you is this: how Christ died for our sins according to scriptures, was buried and raised again the third day.”
“Evangelistic preaching majors on the message of Jesus, particularly on his redemptive deeds,” Fish said. “That is the subject. The object of evangelistic preaching is to lead people to make an initial commitment to Jesus. It’s preaching for a verdict.”
He encouraged the crowd to make the most of the opportunities they have to preach to the lost.
“Study the people who will hear your message,” he said. “As you’re planning your preaching, jettison the jargon. Forget the ‘language of Zion.’ Be willing to be flexible in the use of terminology. You may have to think of another word for ‘regeneration’ or think of an illustration for redemption.”
Though the Word of God meets all needs, Fish said the lost need to be shown that it applies to their security, self-preservation, loneliness, love, peace and purpose.
“While our basic message remains the same, the presentation of the Gospel must be largely conditioned on the actual world,” he said. “It’s within this framework that we have to show the relevance of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to make the Gospel relevant, what you have to do is show its relevance.”