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Five Questions for Dr. Carlton Byrd
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By James Scarborough
 
Dr. Byrd, so far in your ministry you have successfully lead over 2,500 people to become baptized disciples of Christ and join the Seventh-day Adventist Church. What would you say is the secret of your success?
 
I am committed to knowing my people and I preach the gospel of Christ to meet their spiritual needs. Everyone is looking for something better in life. I share with them that Jesus is better than what they have and I appeal to them to follow him. 
 
Explain why it is important for pastors and preachers of the gospel to make an appeal to those who have heard the Word?
 
All good preaching must speak to the needs of people. When the need has been satisfied by the Word, then the preacher must make an appeal. Without an appeal how could the sinner respond to the call of God and come to the Savior? The appeal is where you close the deal by asking people to sign on the dotted line.
 
What is the main reason some pastors and preachers do not make an appeal?
 
Perhaps the main reason many pastors do not make an appeal is because of the fear of failure. This fear of failure may be due to inexperience in making appeals or lack of faith. They feel that people may not respond to their invitation to come to Christ. So in order to avoid failure they shy away from making appeals.
 
How can pastors and preachers who are afraid of making appeals overcome that fear?
 
The most effective way for pastors and preachers to overcome the fear of making appeals is by working at it consistently. The more you work at something the better you get in doing it. We must remember that the Word of God has power and it is the Holy Spirit that brings conviction to the hearts of the hearers and He will give success. The pastor must have faith in the invincible combined power of the word and the Holy Spirit to lead people to a decision when he or she makes the appeal. The best way to gain experience in making appeals is by doing it at the end of every sermon. Experience in making appeals is also accelerated exponentially by doing evangelistic meetings and practicing how to do it effectively. All pastors should regularly do evangelistic meetings because not only does it help to increase people’s knowledge and relationship with Christ it also helps the pastor to grow spiritually and professionally while practicing his or her craft and calling.
 
For the benefit of our colleagues in preaching who are still perfecting their craft, what would you identify as essential elements of an effective appeal?
 
Jesus modeled the elements of an effective appeal. An effective appeal must be:
 
  1. Personal. When preaching to a congregation there are some people who are hearing the Word for the first time and some who are hearing it for the very last time, therefore you have to get personal and lead them to a decision. In John chapter 4, we find that Jesus got personal and vulnerable with the woman at the well by talking with her and asking her for a drink. He also got personal with her and made her thirsty for living water. Jesus graciously pointed out her sin and He revealed to this Samaritan woman that He was the Messiah! He offered her something better than she had and met her need.
  2. Persuasive. In order to be persuasive you have to be credible. Jesus persuaded the woman at the well because she rightly perceived that he was credible and that He could give her something better–living water.
  3. Passionate. The woman at the well sensed Jesus’ passionate love for her and it made her feel unusually safe to the point where she admitted her sin.
  4. Patient. Some people may not respond to an appeal during the first five minutes, but by minute six some will start responding. It is important to be patient when making the appeal and do not give up quickly. We must not miss the fact that Jesus took time to work with the woman at the well. He was patient with her questions and objections and answered her thoughtfully.
 
Preparation for making the appeal must be done during the sermon.  We must work patiently and thoughtfully through the sermon to meet people’s needs, answer their questions, and resolve their objections. Then make the appeal. God will give the increase!
 
Dr. Carlton Byrd is senior pastor of Oakwood University Seventh-day Adventist Church and speaker/director of Breath of Life Television Ministries. James Scarborough is senior pastor of Bakersfield Hillcrest and Kern River Valley Seventh-day Adventist Churches and associate ministerial director for Area 5 in Central California Conference.