Chapter 44

Connecting with Non-Christians

Why to analyze your audience when preparing for evangelistic preaching.

Most evangelistic sermons I hear take some form of the four spiritual laws (from Campus Crusade), combine them with a few proof texts, sprinkle in an illustration or two, and then cap it all off with the "sinner's prayer." The sermon's theology is sound, but the sermon takes the same form regardless of the audience. The sermon feels like a suit off the rack. It doesn't take into account the audience's unique size and shape.

To some extent, this is understandable. The fundamental content of the gospel never changes, no matter who the audience is. The life situations and presuppositions of our listeners, on the other hand, vary widely and should affect the shape of the sermon. Formulating a series of true propositions and lobbing them in the direction of the audience does not mean we have preached effectively. Genuine communication involves what is heard as much as what is said.

This means if we hope to be understood by our listeners, we must analyze the audience ...

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