I am extremely excited to be a part of a great church, Cross Church! I am also excited about the great opportunity to be a part of all that God is doing through our Church. This past Sunday night was an absolutely incredible time of worshipping God and being encouraged from the Word at our Cross Church Family Night of Worship at our Pinnacle Hills Campus. Immediately prior to that service, the Cross Church Family approved the 2013 – 2014 Ministry Budget for our Church in the amount of $16,780,000. Cross Church Family, this is a God-sized goal and we all need to help meet the challenges of this new fiscal year and see how God uses our Church in the process.
Celebrating an Incredible, God-Anointed Year
Never forget how God anointed Cross Church this year. In this current fiscal year of 2012 – 2013, Cross Church saw a record number of baptisms with 1,175 people being baptized in our Northwest Arkansas ministries alone. Each of these numbers represents a person whose life has been changed for all eternity. Cross Church Family, when you gave to our Church, you were a part of each of those 1,175 stories of redemption and salvation. THANK YOU! Never forget that this year, Cross Church launched a brand new and unique ministry, the Cross Church School of Ministry. Through this ministry, we believe God will help us touch the next generation for Jesus Christ and literally touch Northwest Arkansas, America, and the World for Jesus. The giving of your tithes made this possible. THANK YOU! Never forget that God moved, you gave, and we saw Cross Church help plant churches all over America and around the world this year. Now, these church plants are investing in the lives of people all over the world. You are a part of these incredible stories. THANK YOU!
The Year Ahead
Cross Church, the stories of changed lives are far too numerous to tell in this note. But they are real, and as you volunteer your time and give your offerings to our Church, you are a part of their stories. We need to finish this year strong. We have two weeks remaining in the current fiscal year and we all need to continue to give faithfully to the Church. Then, we all need to step up and honor God with all we do in the coming year and see how God uses Cross Church in miraculous ways to impact lives again this year. We have great opportunities ahead in our Mission ministries, our Worship ministries, our Compassion ministries, our Family ministries, our Discipleship ministries, and in so many other places. These opportunities are incredible and God-sized, and we need you. Stories are waiting to be made. Stories need to be told. Never forget the Ministry Budget is the single most important fund you can give to, and it is the fuel that keeps all our ministries running.
Cross Church Family, let’s reach the world for Jesus. I believe in you and we need you!
Executive Leader of Finance and Shiloh Christian School
Many churches are no longer extending a public invitation at the conclusion of the Pastor’s message. By no means do I believe this is the only way to give people an opportunity to respond to what God is saying to them through the message. It is one way, and a very important way. Why do I believe this?
Each pastor, evangelist, and missionary should preach for decision.
As we expound the Word of God and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are moving people towards an encounter with God. In some way, we should call for a response to God. Preaching is not intellectual gymnastics or emotional hype. Preaching is the experience of communicating God’s Word through human personality for the purpose of leading people to encounter God. Preachers preach for decision. Preaching calls people to respond to God.
Therefore, I believe it is important for a local church to extend some kind of public invitation to respond to Jesus Christ. The way this is done may be unique to the culture. Here at Cross Church, we still offer people the opportunity to respond publicly to the Lord and His Word that has just been proclaimed. I still believe in the public invitation. Therefore, there are four words I try to keep in mind when I extend a public invitation:
When I prepare the message, from the introduction to the conclusion, I am keeping in mind that I will soon issue a public call for people to respond to God. Through the message and even sometimes during the welcome, I talk about the public invitation. By informing people of the call that I am about to issue at the conclusion of my message, it sets forth the importance and urgency. Preaching issues a call for decision.
It is imperative that the preacher is always clear about what he is asking people to do in their response to God. An unclear public invitation occurs usually due to insufficient preparation. Most pastors prepare their message with a strong desire to be faithful to the text, illustrate it properly, and apply the text to the people. However, most pastors do not take the time to prepare the public invitation. This results in ineffectiveness and lack of clarity.
Consistency in the way you extend the invitation is critical for response. Let me illustrate the way I offer the public invitation. I am usually very consistent in offering four different calls weekly:
- Gospel Call: I believe in the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and always issue an opportunity for people to come to faith in Jesus Christ. One of the highest commendations I have ever received from one of our active members is: “Pastor, one of the things I always appreciate about you is that regardless of what you are preaching on, before we leave, you will take people to the cross of Jesus Christ, share the gospel, and give them an opportunity to respond in faith towards Christ.” Pastors, the power is in the gospel of Jesus Christ! Issue a gospel call!
- Church Call: I believe in the importance of the local church and will always issue an opportunity for people to come into the Cross Church Family. I believe people need to be given an opportunity to come into partnership with our local church. The local church of Jesus Christ is important. Pastors, preach like it and extend invitations that mirror your conviction. In the gospel call or church call, I always issue a strong appeal relating to baptism. I always challenge people to follow Christ in baptism immediately following conversion, and let them know it is a public testimony to everyone that they have decided to follow Jesus.
- Ministry and Mission Call: I believe each Pastor needs to issue the call for people to surrender their lives to full-time ministry or missions on a weekly basis. Most pastors I know and listen to hardly ever issue a calling like this. Pastors and preachers, God is always issuing a calling to people to enter His Gospel ministry to serve in a local church or on the mission field. Do not be bashful about issuing this call. Be bold and courageous. Sitting underneath your preaching weekly may be the next D. L. Moody, Billy Graham, Lottie Moon, Corrie ten Boom, George Beverly Shea, Hudson Taylor, Albert Mohler, Paige Patterson, John MacArthur, John Maxwell, David Platt, or Nick Floyd. Assume nothing! Believe God enough that He is always issuing an ongoing call to people to enter into the gospel ministry and mission field. For the last two decades, I have issued a call like this weekly. I really believe this is one of the major contributing factors to so many ministers having been called out of Cross Church.
- Response to God’s Call: I believe each Pastor needs to give Christ-followers an opportunity to respond to God regarding the message they have just heard or respond to God about what He is doing in their lives personally. Weekly, I will call people to come to pray or to be prayed for by one of our Pastors. This past Sunday night at our Cross Church Family Night of Worship, I issued a call for anyone who desired to be prayed for to come forward, kneeling or standing, and let me pray for you. Many people came. I surrounded them with our Pastors and their wives and I called upon the Lord passionately for them. I prayed, walked, and touched the people as I prayed. Always give people an opportunity to respond to God. Build a culture in your church where responding to God is normal. It should be!
Conviction is not something you have, but it is something that has you! Therefore, we need to offer the public invitation with a conviction: the gospel is the only answer for the sin problem we all have, the hour is urgent due to the reality that we could die at any moment, that hell is real and eternal, or that our Lord Jesus Christ could soon return. Pastors should preach with conviction and offer an invitation with conviction. Here is the reality: either the Bible is the Word of God or it is not; either Jesus is the Only Savior or He is not; either eternity is existent or it is not; and either people go to heaven or hell when they die or they do not. Well, for this one Pastor let me declare where I am in all of this: I believe the Bible is the Word of God, Jesus is the Only Savior of the world, Eternity is real, and when people die they immediately enter their eternity in heaven or in hell, all depending on how they responded to Jesus Christ while they were alive. Therefore, fellow Pastor, gifted Evangelist, and called-Missionary: with conviction, call people to respond in some way to Jesus Christ every time you preach. It is incumbent on us as stewards of our calling and His gospel.
Dear preacher of the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ: assume nothing about any audience or even about your own length of life. Perhaps we need to return to the words of the English Puritan church leader Richard Baxter when he said,
“I preached…as a dying man to dying men.”
So should we.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd