Extending a Public Invitation—The Reasons Why 3
Dr. Lewis Drummond, professor of evangelism at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes, “I conceive the basic purpose of the invitation is to get the convicted forward to be dealt with on a personal basis for salvation.… This is the opportunity, in the old historical sense, for seekers and inquirers to come forward for counsel.”
Here Drummond alludes to the public invitation used by Finney and others in the early nineteenth century, primarily as a means to deal effectively with people who were being convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit. Those who were “anxious” over their soul’s salvation were invited to the “anxious bench.” The public invitation today serves the same practical purpose.
Finally, a call for people to come forward is a useful means of offering help to people who have heard the complete gospel message, but remain confused about its meaning. By responding to the invitation, the confused person can receive a further explanation of the gospel and have his questions answered by a counselor. Dwight L. Moody viewed his invitation as a means to this end.
He once commented:
Some people say, “All you … [need] to do is to make preaching so plain that plain people will understand it.” Well, Christ was a plain preacher, and yet he asked, “Have ye understood all these things?” (Matthew 13:51). He encouraged them to inquire.… We must have personal work—hand-to-hand work—if we are going to have results.
The public invitation is practical. It has proven to be an effective method of bringing people to Christ.
R. Alan Streett, The Effective Invitation: A Practical Guide for the Pastor (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 143–144.