Preaching for a Decision This Easter

By: Pastor Rick Warren

Your Easter sermon this year will come down to two words: Will you?

You’ll likely have more unchurched guests at Easter than at any worship service all year long. They’ll come because their mother invited them to dinner, and church is a prerequisite. They’ll come because it’s a cultural tradition. Or they’ll come because you sent them an invitation.

Regardless of why guests show up for Easter, it’s a great opportunity to share the Gospel with them.

That’s why those two words matter.

Will you? Will you make the decision to follow Jesus?

Frankly, every sermon comes down to the words “Will you?” Preaching that leads to life change enlightens the mind, engages the emotions, and challenges the will.

Many pastors embrace the need to enlighten the mind and engage the emotions, but they avoid challenging the will. You can’t preach for a decision unless you’re willing to stand on the Word of God and humbly yet forcibly challenge people.

You need to ask people to make a decision. How do you do that? Let me give you six ways I ask for a specific decision, particularly the decision to follow Jesus:

  1. Use arguments. In other words, anticipate people’s objections as to why they won’t come to faith, and then logically refute them.
  2. Use a warning. Warn your guests of the consequences of disobedience.
  3. Use indirect conviction. Arouse moral indignation like Nathan did in the Bible after David’s adultery. Remember when Nathan told the story about the guy who had all those sheep but still stole sheep from a poor guy? David’s indignation got aroused. That’s indirect conviction.
  4. Use pleading. Express God’s love and concern for your audience and others.
  5. Use vision. Paint a picture of what’s possible when people follow Jesus.
  6. Use encouragement. Let them know that they can come to faith in Christ. No person is too far away from God. Many people you’re trying to reach this Easter don’t believe this. Encourage them to believe this important truth.

By the way, here’s a bonus point: Find someone to give a testimony during your Easter service. I love using testimonies in my sermons for many reasons. Testimonies are like “satisfied customers.” They show the people you want to reach what it looks like when others come to faith in Christ. People can argue with just about everything else you say, but they can’t argue with a testimony.

Testimonies are especially important when you’re urging people to make a decision. When you give a message like the one you’ll do at Easter, it takes a lot out of you. Sometimes you’ll put so much energy in the first part of your sermon that you’re particularly worn out when you get to the point at the end where you really press for a decision. You’re exhausted before the most important part of the sermon.

That’s where testimonies can help. Sometimes I’ll preach a couple of points and then bring up someone to share a testimony. Not only does this introduce the audience to someone who has decided to follow Christ, but it also gives me a much-needed breather to refocus and restore my energy as I get a drink of water and rest for a couple of minutes. Your conclusion is such an important part of an evangelistic sermon. You need all the energy you can muster for it.

Through all of this, remember that eternity hangs in the balance for many in your audience. I’ve preached multiple Easter services for years. By the time I finish my last one, I’m worn out. But I keep going because I know how high the stakes are. I know I’m preaching to people every Easter who are hearing the Gospel for the first and maybe the last time. I never know what will happen to the people I’m preaching to each week. It’s a huge responsibility.

So I keep eternity in my mind every Sunday, and particularly every Easter—it’s great motivation!

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About the Author
Pastor Rick Warren
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. Pastor Rick started The PEACE Plan to show the local church how God works through ordinary people to address the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease, and illiteracy. You can listen to Daily Hope, Pastor Rick’s daily 25-minute audio teaching, or sign up for his free daily devotionals at PastorRick.com. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global online community created to encourage pastors.
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