I was persuaded of the wisdom of this approach about fifteen years ago. Having now followed it faithfully for over a decade, I can see many benefits of including a concise gospel summary in nearly every sermon. Here are three reasons for your friendly consideration for why you should adopt this approach as well.
Among conservative evangelicals, there’s a longstanding, friendly debate over whether or not every sermon should include a concise summary of the gospel message. By this I’m not talking about the use of a gospel-centered hermeneutic which connects every passage of Scripture to the person and work of Jesus, say, the approach to Bible interpretation taught by Graeme Goldsworthy or Edmund Clowney. Instead I’m talking about inserting, somewhere in your sermon, and hopefully in a natural way that connects to the rest of the message, a short explanation of the main truths about who Jesus is and what he has done (in perhaps 4-6 minutes), along with an exhortation to repent and believe.
While this approach is admittedly not followed by most conservative, evangelical preachers, perhaps the best-known proponent and model of including a gospel summary in (nearly) every sermon is Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. For a wonderful example of what I’m talking about, consider this sermon delivered by Pastor Dever in a Southern Seminary chapel (the gospel summary begins at 14:04).
I was persuaded of the wisdom of this approach about fifteen years ago. Having now followed it faithfully for over a decade, I can see many benefits of including a concise gospel summary in nearly every sermon. Here are three reasons for your friendly consideration for why you should adopt this approach as well:
1. By regularly including a gospel summary, you’ll evangelize non-Christians in your congregation.
One of the most surprising things I discovered early on as a pastor is how many non-Christians faithfully attend evangelical churches. I’m not talking primarily about “gospel hypocrites”, those who claim to be Christians but give no real evidence of being born again, though there are certainly many of those in our churches. I’m talking about people who make no pretentions about being Christians but come to church because, say, their spouse drags them along or because their parents require them to attend or simply because they have nothing better to do on Sunday mornings.
Most churches, especially in America, have a surprisingly high percentage of such folks. What do these people most desperately need but to be confronted with the claims of Jesus and called upon to repent and believe? Recently I baptized a young man who began attending our church purely because he was fond of a young woman in our congregation. But every week he heard a concise summary of the good news of who Jesus is and why he came to earth. After about six months of this, the gospel cracked open his heart and he was sincerely born again. Such is the potential benefit of regularly including a summary of the gospel message in your sermons.