Persuasive Preaching

MINISTER-TO-BE: Persuasive Preaching

"The ultimate aim in all preaching is to persuade."

Bible Teacher, Vejlefjord High School, Denmark

The ultimate aim in all preaching is to persuade. A preacher should say with Paul, "We persuade men" (2 Cor. 5:11), or with Ellen G. White, "We must persuade men everywhere" (Evangelism, p. 217).

Sister White once wrote to a minister:

"Your labors have not been one tenth as valuable as they would have been had you qualified yourself by practical experience to give the people discourses upon practical subjects. . . . The practical and the doctrinal should be combined in order to impress hearts with the importance of yielding to the claims of truth after the understanding has been convinced by the weight of evidence."—Testimonies., vol. 3, p. 237. (Italics supplied.)

In other words, when the minister has convinced the people (doctrinal preaching), his work is not finished, for he has to persuade them by practical preaching; that is, by emotional and logical appeal, where the will, the feelings, and the motives of the soul are touched and moved.

Conviction is always one avenue to the heart of man, and a preacher must first gain that, for no persuasion that is not based on conviction will be stable. But in order to persuade, the preacher must remember that man is a creature moved by many different springs, and he must act upon them all.

An evangelist knows that "real conversion is a decided change of feelings and motives" (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 82), and has to act upon these in order to change them. Through the preacher's logical presentation of the truth the Holy Spirit wants to touch and act upon the feelings, the will, and the motives of the audience in order to persuade.

A cold, logical mind can convince, but it takes a heart with overwhelming warmth and love to draw and to move.

The minister can proclaim in a shouting manner one convincing truth after another, but it takes a voice that can touch the feelings to persuade. Sister White mentions that without feeling and melody in the human voice much of the force and effect of the truth is destroyed. (Evangelism, p. 56.)

Christ spoke with calmness, but never in a lifeless manner. Often His feelings moved and electrified His own soul. This is illustrated at the cleansing of the Temple and at the tomb of Lazarus. Through Jesus' ministry people not only knew but also saw and felt.

Speaking about music, Sister White touches the emotional side of our preaching:

"Rightly employed, it is a precious gift of God, designed to uplift the thoughts to high and noble themes, to inspire and elevate the soul. ... It has power to subdue rude and uncultivated natures; power to quicken thought and to awaken sympathy, to promote harmony of action, and to banish the gloom and foreboding that destroy courage and weaken effort." Education, pp. 167, 168.

There is an emotional preaching that is false. It has its aim in itself; the people are moved to tears, but the feelings do not stir the will to action. The preaching has touched them, but it did not have a message of convincing truths.

Persuasive preaching should electrify the soul with enthusiasm and joy, but not develop a spirit of enthusiasm which leads to fanaticism that soon fades away, leaving the soul in discouragement and depression.

The evangelist has to bring people to see, feel, and imagine the awfulness of sin and the horrible state of rejection, without being a "hell-preacher." On the other hand, he should avoid an emotional feeling caused by fanciful representations.

Though the sermon should touch the feeling of joy and happiness, the speech should be kept free from cheap words and common amusement.

In persuasive preaching there should be a logical and convincing presentation of the truth interwoven with an emotional response, which appeals to man's mainspring of feelings and motives. In both the convincing and the persuasive part of preaching, the minister, with the help of God, should make himself a tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit's molding power.

 

 

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Bible Teacher, Vejlefjord High School, Denmark

January 1952

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