This Sunday may be it. The only chance you will get. There may be someone there this Sunday who may never come again. So it would be wise to spell out the gospel in detail, wouldn’t it? After all, this may be the only opportunity and so it would make sense to be sure to cover all the bases. This is the approach many of us from time to time. Perhaps aware of visitors or motivated by something we heard, we decide to pack the corners of our message with evangelistic information.
I’m not suggesting this is wrong. But it is certainly not so simple. There are two sides to this issue. On the one side you are preaching the text to people that ultimately need to either respond to the gospel, or continue to apply the reality of the gospel in their lives. It may well be that this is the only opportunity for somebody to hear the important details concerning themselves, their predicament, God’s provision, and so on. I’ve sat through many supposedly evangelistic messages that did a lot of work, but then failed to spell out how to respond. So perhaps we should look to present the gospel as fully as possible in every message?
On the other hand, are we not running the risk of forcing every text into a certain gospel form, rather than honoring the text in a truly expository manner? Are we not running the risk of adding detail to a message that does not support the main idea and thereby complicating the message? People find clear messages easier to follow, ones that are built closely around a single main idea. If they are easy to follow then the experience is more enjoyable and people are more likely to return for more. A message considered confusing and complicated will not motivate people to want more.
Perhaps part of the solution is to present the gospel every Sunday, but if it risks complicating the message in some way, then it could be presented at some other point in the service. This may be the last Sunday someone will be able to hear the gospel. Equally, it may be the last Sunday they will bother coming to church if the communication is overwhelming and complicated. Present the gospel, or motivate them to return for more, or maybe you can do both?